Over the past seven months, an ex-lover and still close friend of mine has spiraled downward into the abyss of addiction with no desire to change her behavior, and ultimately, I came to the difficult conclusion that I needed to let her go and make my peace with it. This piece was the result of that decision: My little one, the one I knew and loved, is now dead and buried. That is a fucked up, tragic thing. Yet somehow… my eyes are dry, my pulse steady, my mind at ease. Denial is the first stage of grief, and I was in denial for so long, the ache palpable with my longing for one more day, one more hour… one more moment with who she once was. And in my efforts to capture that “one more,” I clutched a vacant and vicious doppelganger close to my heart, a soulless stranger with her sweet, familiar face. At the time, I didn’t realize – or perhaps simply didn’t want to see – that this was merely a hollow imitation, nothing more than a cheap thrill at a far-too-high price. And I didn’t make the connection until now that this stranger was also responsible for killing the one I loved, for pulling her into the deadly downward spiral of self-destruction and pathological deception from which she had no hope of emerging unscathed and intact. But heartbreaking as it may be to realize that she is gone, never to return, I am at peace in the knowledge that she is in a better place, carried with me always in my heart and my memory… the only places now where the beauty that once was can live on, untouched and untainted. And, knowing this, I have finally found the strength to let go, to stop looking back over my shoulder with each forward step, at long last fully grasping the truth of the single, simple statement that we always thought we knew so well: “Everything happens for a reason.” Because now, at last, this chapter has come to its irrevocable close. She is dead and gone – though never forgotten – and I am free, brought back to life, the shackles falling from my wrists, the curse broken. Rest in peace now, babygirl. You’ll always be my little one.

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