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Dear Ana: Epilogue

Dear Maya,

Most people like to categorize their life into two stages: the before stage and the after stage. They usually do this when a life-changing event occurs. Something so groundbreaking and distinguished that it forces them to split their world in half. The problem for me was that too many earth-shattering things happened and I wasn’t able to find a clear, and prominent line that separated my existence. What changed my life the most––before my mom died and after my mom died? Before I got adopted and after I got adopted? Before that car crash and after that car crash?

I couldn’t decide . . . until I met you, and everything changed. I met you, and my decision was clear as day. I met you, Maya, and I fell in love with you so hard and so passionately that it shook the ground beneath my feet, and I couldn’t go back even if I wanted to. I met you, and I knew in that moment that my life would forever be defined into before you, and after you.

And then you died.

I knew the moment it happened. I literally felt your heart, Ana’s heart, the heart that lived in the two most important people I’ve ever had the pleasure of loving just stop beating.

I thought I knew death. I thought I understood death. I thought I experienced it enough times to be immune to the pain. I told you to let go because that’s what you needed . . . but that’s not what I needed, Maya.

They said you had severe cardiac allograft vasculopathy. They said it’s the most common cause of death in heart transplant patients, especially within the first ten years. They said you were lucky. Most heart transplant patients, particularly in an emergency case like yours, don’t live that long. Only I know that you weren’t living for ten years, you were surviving. Your heart was too big and too pure for this world, but it just wasn’t strong enough. I wish my love was enough to save you, but it wasn’t. I failed you, baby, and I’m so sorry.

Your bookstore was a success. It’s filled with people every day––some friends, some acquaintances, some strangers––and they all get together in the safe space you created and bond over books. But most importantly, your novel was a success. They love it, Maya. Everybody fucking loves it, most of all me. I read it every day. I whisper your words on my tongue and let them simmer around in my mind until they’re engraved deep into my memory. I take all your pain, and all your love, and all your strength and I use it to reignite my heart so I can get through the days that are always so devastatingly long. It doesn’t matter how many times I read it, because the ending is always the same. You were never too broken for me, Maya. No matter how many different endings you imagined for yourself, it will always end with me falling hopelessly and endlessly in love with you.

Every cent that your book makes goes to your parents. I know you well enough to know that even though you’re up there, you’re still worried about the people you left behind down here. You took care of your parents, and they’re going to be okay. The only person you need to take care of now is you.

I finished building your house, just like I promised. I still wanted to create your happy place for you. I also did it for myself, so I could feel like I still had a piece of you left, but it doesn’t feel like home without you in it. You were my favorite place, Maya. You were my home, and I still can’t believe you’re fucking gone.

I didn’t realize how much you had changed me, until you were snatched away. Everything I was before you got tainted with your presence and the man who thought he knew how to exist without you is gone.

You liked iced coffee. I didn’t, but for you, I love it. I love how the cold and artificially sweetened liquid feels in my body.

You liked to read. I didn’t, but for you, I love it. I love every single cheesy and romantic word ever printed on paper.

You liked the snow. I liked the sun, but for you, I despise the rays of yellow light that burn my skin every day. For you, I cherish every single flurry that falls from the sky.

Seven billion people, Maya. Seven billion fucking people in this world, and I had to fall in love with the one heart that couldn’t love me forever. Somehow I still see you everywhere. I hear your voice in my ear. I feel you in my arms when I go to sleep. My lips memorized the way your mouth felt against mine. Sometimes my body gets so entranced by your presence living within me, that it will start to sway back and forth in the empty streets when it snows, but then I blink and realize that I’m dancing with the wind, and not with you.

I miss touching you. I miss the way my body tingled the first time you brushed your finger against my skin. I miss the way my heart thumped excitedly in my chest the first time I saw your beautiful and sad face. I miss the way you used to look up at me through your long lashes, warm brown eyes shining brightly into mine. I miss the way my ears sang with delight the first time you said I love you. I miss the way it felt to trust you with everything that I was and to be trusted with everything that you were. I miss loving you, baby. I miss you, I miss you, I miss you.

We met by chance. Two darts getting thrown in opposite directions but somehow still landing at the same target. I think I always knew that I was going to lose you, Maya. I think I always knew that we wouldn’t get forever. There was this voice in my head telling me that I needed to love you a little harder, and hug you a little tighter, and stare into your eyes a little longer. You told me once that I couldn’t try to fix you without getting broken in the process, and you were right. But loving you for the short amount of time we had is worth every single second of pain. I hope you are at peace now, Maya, in a small house in paradise with chickens and two small cats.

You were my soulmate in this life, and you will be in every life that comes after. I’ll meet you on the other side my love, but until then . . . I’ll see you when I wake up at sunrise to say good morning, and then again as the sun sets when you say goodnight. Pinky Promise.

–Forever, your Noah


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