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PART 3
Sending our boy off to learn to be a warrior, and no love to show for it

The last few days of July melted (almost quite literally) into the blistering Chicago heat of August. At this point I was well aware of Green’s feelings towards me and to the extent they deepened. I was constantly trying convince myself that I felt the same and that it had to be some highly dark force controlling my feelings to remain flaccid, Something telling me that I felt this way for a reason. That all of this confusion would somehow make sense in the end. I felt like something was forcing me to remain on only appreciative of Green, never passionately in love with. As much as he denied it, protecting his own heart as best as he could, he still hoped that I would come around and realize what I’d been missing, and we would ride off into some (very manly) proverbial sunset into a future we’d face together.

I did realize what I’d been missing. I knew he deserved my love more than anyone in the world. He was so incredibly good to me, he was my best friend, and there were no secrets between us. He loved me for every irrational freak out, for every inappropriate joke, for every mistake and for every triumph.

As the summer came to a close, as summers always must, Green’s last day arrived. He’d been telling me for weeks that he had a special good-bye surprise for me that he had been planning something that I couldn’t know about. Since I knew he was well aware of how much I hate surprises (they make me have anxiety—I’m the kind of girl who wants to have a concrete list of birthday and Christmas presents beforehand) I was nervous as to what this “surprise” might be.

Around sunset he drove me down to our local beach, the one that looks over sleepy Lake Michigan, the breeze was coming off the water, bringing with it the icy chill that signifies the swiftly approaching fall.

As we climbed out of the old, rusty red truck and made our way to the sand I noticed lights at the end of the beach. Green had set up a special goodbye picnic. On the blanket were all of my favorite rolls from our special sushi spot, the one he had taken me to many times, gotten me drunk on Saki bombs and always picked up the bill. It had been the site of many “dates” that he thought a girl like me deserved to be taken on.

I was awestruck. It was beautiful and sweet and easily the kindest thing any best friend could have possibly done to say goodbye to a girl he loved who didn’t love him back. I couldn’t help wondering why I was even bothering with the loser I was dating who hadn’t even introduced me to his family after 8 months.

The picnic wasn’t all. He gave me a Build-a-Bear dressed in Marine blues—I could scarcely comprehend the most man’s-man guy I know walking into Build-A-Bear and saying he needed to make a bear for his girl. I imagine, Green being the kind of guy that he was, that he made an embarrassingly hilarious scene and I’m sorry I missed it. When I hugged the little bear to my chest it said from inside its furry heart, in Green’s voice, “I love you and miss you, G.” he said it was so that, whenever I got lonely back in New York, I could hold my bear, squeeze it, and know somebody really loved me.

I wish I could say I fell into his arms that night and told him everything he wanted to hear. I wish I could tell you that, in this moment, I knew I had found the kind of love that my heart ached for with all of its might. But I didn’t say any of those things.

We went back to my house and watched television, on the tattered couch in our family room, with my brothers and sisters. We all told him how much we would miss him and how he had become a member of our family. My father even told him that he was the type of son he wished he could have had and that even though he constantly worried about me when I out form under his watchful eye, he never worried when I was with Green. He said he knew that he loved me more than himself and that was the kind of guy he could trust his daughter with.

I didn’t tell Green I wanted him. I didn’t send my boy off to training for the Crucible leaving him knowing he had a good girl waiting for him. I just played with his buzzed hair and scratched his scalp as he laid it in my lap. I just gently kissed his cheeks and told him I wished he didn’t have to go away.

I felt numb, like I always had. Listless on this last and final night, holding a man who truly loved me with all of his heart in my arms. And sometimes, I would hold my bear close to me and squeeze so that I could hear, “I love and miss you, G” in the voice of the man who had always been my hero.

More to come

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