Ten years. A decade. 3650 days. Ten times around the sun.
Almost a third of my life has now been lived without you in it.
Last year was the first year the anniversary didn't fill me with dread, I actually felt okay, I laughed, I smiled, I didn't cry - It passed and for the first time, I didn't crumble. This year, I am a mess.
Ten years ago, I had endured the worst night of my night, camped out on a sofa in a relatives room on no sleep, no food and no hope.
The following morning, my world ended. Machines were switched off, I held your hand and whispered everything that I could muster. Then you were gone. I fell to the floor clutching my cousin, sobbing away the previous days eyeliner, my eyes leaking black tears which painted the following years that same charcoal black.
There's been ten years between your last breath and this moment. Time has taken you further and further away from me. I no longer remember the sound of your voice, the sound of your laugh, your jokes, your likes and your dislikes. I feel like I no longer remember you.
You were the centre of me for seventeen years, and ten years later, you have faded further and further into a tapestry of blurred memories but entirely remembered feelings.
I couldn't fathom a world without you in it, and I've been living in that world for ten years now. It's been dark, and painful, and bleak. Grieving you was too much to handle, so I put up a wall and for years, I buried it under my anorexia and depression until it finally became too much and broke out of my chest.
It took a suicide attempt and a breakdown six years later for me to really accept that you were gone. I've come a long way since then. I am so very happy now, and I may accept it, but that doesn't mean any of it is right. Or fair. Or just. How can life steal away someone who gave so much? Who had such a huge heart, so full of love that it broke and needed an electrical impulse to enable it to continue beating - loving at the full hearted capacity it was accustomed to.
The huge heart that drove me to every hospital appointment, every weigh in and ECG. Who waited patiently in the car and just held my hand in silence when I got back to the car and needed to go home. The same huge heart that was astounded at how restorative Hawaii had been for me, who in his final conscious days told me that it was a healing place for me and was so happy to see me so happy. The same huge heart that taught me to swim, read, explore and adventure. The same huge heart that built me a rope swing on the enormous tree in your enormous garden. The same huge heart that taught me about equality for all people regardless of their race, gender and sexual preference. You sat nine year old me down (who was so confused about a news segment about a boy band member being gay) and asked me if I knew what being gay meant, I said it meant that he liked boys instead of girls. You smiled and said it did and that there was nothing wrong with it even though the media were making out that it was (despite my peers crying and mourning the fact their impending weddings to him were now going to have to be cancelled!) We watched a once in a lifetime comet pass over us, we watched endless storms, and we watched the twin towers fall from your TV. In those terrible following days, you taught me about bad people in the world, and how bad individuals aren't reflective of a religion or a race.
I was who I was because you existed, and I became who I became because you no longer existed.
I couldn't navigate through life without you because you were my compass, pointing me in every right direction and steering me back on course. Without that compass, I was lost, hurt, and so lonely in this world that you were no longer physically present.
In a few days time, it will be three years since light came back into my life. A beautiful, incredible person walked into my life and I finally felt like I could breathe again. The fact that you never got to meet her breaks my heart. You would adore her, I know that. She reminds me of you, she reminds me of how safe and unconditionally loved you made me feel. You raised me to find her. You made me the person that she fell in love with. I tried my hardest to emulate you so much from such a young age that I hope I carry your legacy in me now. I hope that people who loved you, even just knew you, would see fragments of you in me.
There are fragments of you scattered inside of my heart and my soul. As I move further and further away from you, I carry you with me each and everyday. You are the very essence of me - and whilst I am struggling so hard with the distance between us, that makes your physical traits fade away from me, I must remember that I haven't forgotten anything you gave me. I hold them all close to me and they are what make me who I am.
Grief is never ending, and I accept that. The loss we carry is infinite, it is a flame inside of us that never quite goes out. Some days it roars, other days, it is just a flicker, a tiny spark that you barely feel.
On some days life is so good that I don't feel the hurt anymore. In the last three years, those days have become more and more frequent. I really do believe that you sent her to me, that you steered us together to make me feel a happiness and a love that I hadn't known to ever be possible. The kind of love you used to read to me in fairytales, the kind of love I didn't believe myself to ever be worthy of. I was so close to giving up again, and then she walked into my life.
In the last conversation I ever had with you, you made me make you a promise. I cried and I promised you that I would try and get better, to try and break free of the disease that has come back into my life this year. For years, I carried so much guilt inside of me that I had broken that promise to you.
So on this day, ten years and a few days since I made that promise, I promise you again - I will fight it even harder this time. I will fight it to live the life that you made possible for me.
I love you.
I miss you.