the stubs of the candles, i say to myself. memorialize this.

it has been four or five or maybe even six rooms that i have moved these tiny glass cubes with these miniaturized tapers in. they were pink – i don’t even like pink, but i looked on them fondly, always. i moved them, and dusted around them, and kept them in places of honor, visible places. these are tokens from my friends, i said.

i am still recovering from the heartbreak. it takes so much longer to heal when the damage was pervasive, over time, and when, well, when you ignored it for so long.

when i can breathe in and feel it, when i can believe in something, it feels like a moment of fairy tale magic.

these are tokens from my friends. they gave them to me because i envied their trinkets, because i always had trouble picking out things for myself. because i couldn’t find the perfect thing. because i couldn’t know what my symbols were, because i never took the time to know myself. i only ever focused on picking things about myself to hate, and fighting battles.

i devoted everything i was to the war. and, as wars do, it erased most of me, by its bitter, driving end. i judged that end much too soon. i was a front line fighter – i was never in intelligence.

these are from my friends. they wanted me to know that i was worth special things too. that i deserved something beautiful. they said they wanted to help me to know myself. they gave me these tiny glass candle holders, smaller than ice cubes, and i have taken them everywhere. when one of the small candles broke, i heated it with a lighter, working the wax back together with my fingers, so it would remain. i could not lose something that was so special. there are some small incense holders, and a handmade dream catcher. there are colors i have always been drawn to, even if i never deciphered why.

here, they said. have these things. you are loved. you are beautiful. honor yourself.

now, i am sitting here alone. that part is ok – it’s a restful night, and i’m grateful for it. i’m glad that i do not have to rise early tomorrow, and i am luxuriating in doing whatever i wish. i got a little restless, and decided to dust, and came across these trinkets. still occupying a place of honor, still grouped with the things i love. the givers of these gifts have gone, have changed, have turned on me. her words now are a very faint echo. his handwriting merely causes me to cock my head slightly and think how a year can change so much.

i wish i could say i came away whole, and unscathed. i wish i were that strong, truly. much of me is shattered, pockmarked, made so ugly by the bombs and acid we threw back and forth. finally, i think, i see the end result of this ten year saga.

i am smaller, now. i am much more easily hurt. i am guarded, and prickly. i lost the people i loved.

i am telling the nerves in my arm, ordering my finger bones to release their grasp on these ashes, to stop marveling and mourning their dark dust. i am trying, every day, to release them, this, this love i lost.

but the words are there forever, once they are said. you are loved. you are beautiful. honor yourself. these, i will keep.

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