Content warning: This story deals with the subject of suicide, and will not be appropriate for all readers.
At seventeen, I was forcing myself to make eye contact with you when we awkwardly met that winter in your cosy living room. I was braced defensively, waiting for you to size me up and deem me unsuitable for your son. Instead, you sat us down and were genuinely interested in the girl who had spent the long days of summer passed with your eldest child. You had a gentle and loving soul and it was impossible for me to keep my guard up as you asked about my university course, my career plans and my family. Your son grew bored and went off to his Xbox while we chatted for the remainder of the evening.
My relationship with your son grew as we spent more and more time together, declaring ourselves soul mates, in that way young, smitten couples do. I know you were wise enough to see things differently, but you didn’t deny us our feelings, despite you knowing we were headed on wildly different paths. When I considered taking a chance to work overseas the next summer, you told me to embrace the opportunity and that you were jealous you’d never had the chance to do such things when you were our age. You said if we were really soul mates then it would all work out and that if we weren’t then I would kick myself for missing the chance to embrace my spirit of adventure. I went, he broke up with me, like you surely knew he would, but ultimately you knew I would get over it. I have such fond memories of that summer and understand how it was the catalyst that propelled me into the person I am today. I regret nothing.