I went to go visit that woman who had the cabin without running water and internet again. Her hair was the same, peppered as if to say that wisdom has grown on her heart from a life of heartache. As she took me into a hug, I was surprised by her remembering of me. And as she held me tight, I could feel that she had experienced profound joy throughout life too.

Starting a kettle on the stove she asked me how I was.

"I'm really good," I replied. We didn't have to make eye contact to know it was a lie. But it was an easy lie. One of those, if I get into the truth I might not ever stop crying, and I am just so exhausted. So please just take my answer for what it is worth and know I am okay.

"Ah, really good I see," she gently smiled. Taking a seat across from me she cut to the chase, "so how is writing, or is it law school that you are pursuing now?" 

Writing was the guy.
Law school was my way of discrediting what we had.

"I went back to teaching."

Teaching was a safe place to be. Teaching was me before him and me with him. And I hoped if it could be those two things then perhaps it could also be me after him. If it couldn't, at least it was a distraction that kept me busy enough to know recognize it.

"And how is that going?"

Her questions weren't abrasive, but as I started at her hands, that housed a few wrinkles it made me want to be honest. You can't soft and kind in this world without going through the war. Her hands told the stories of the battles she had been through, that is why they were so aged. Her hand gently moved forward, welcoming me to take hold of it, like she would walk me through it.

Tears began to well up, holding place at the bottom of my eyes like so many times before, "it just wasn't what I planned."

The silence began to filter all of the "what ifs." 

What if I said yes when he asked if we should get married when we sat on the edge of my bed. Did he stop trusting that I loved him because I said no? 

What if I never called him.
What if he never called back.

What if I never took the wrong turn that morning and caught him in bed with someone else

What if I finally moved out of the Carriage House ... because night after night I stay sleeping on my side of the bed, and our family still hasn't come home.

The what ifs were interrupted by the whistle of the kettle blowing. As her back was turned to me, while she was fixing our cups of tea, I let tears in my eyes to finally release. 

She walks over with two cups of tea filled to the brim. Her hands are gentle as she sets them on the table. "You can say it," she said, "pretending you are a bottomless vessel and can hold everything inside is a waste of souls pace darling."

"It was hard with him, but it all seems harder without him. The house is too big for one person. It is quiet and the shadows seem much bigger at night now. I don't know the last time I cooked a meal for myself." 

"What if the house feels so big, because you are meant to grow into it? Just you. Alone. You grow."

I shook my head, "I don't like that." My voice must have cracked because she didn't push further.

"It feels like a painful ending, I get that -" her voice became a bit quieter, "-oh do I get that. But that doesn't mean it is over. You get to choose which moments you would like to relive over and over again. Allow those memories to warm your heart when you feel alone at night. Let your heart break just a bit more too, when you're grieving your ghostship life."

She placed her hand on top of mine, and I looked down so she couldn't the tears falling, once again. It was the first time I noticed, in my two visits with her, that she wore a simple gold band around her finger. Yet she had never mentioned a sir, nor had I seen one at the cabin -- and she too had her own ghostship life.

Dear Future Daughter,

You will have nights when you cry over old wounds that you thought you healed from. This is so important. It is a reminder to see the world through softer eyes; you too have once needed more compassion and hugs than what the world seemed to have been giving you. There will be days when you wake up with swollen eyes and a heavy heart; your smile will never be more beautiful. Take a picture with someone you love, on those days, and give thanks. When your past walks into a room hug them. We are all human and we're just trying to get it. Cherish the secrets between you and him. Celebrate the anniversaries, even if it's in the form of tears -- August 12, 31. September 4. April 24. May 2. They are reminders that you have loved fiercely and with abandon. Be okay to put yourself into someone else's hands and laugh again. Don't self deprecate yourself and proclaim you need to be fixed; you are not broken. You are becoming and unbecoming. Celebrate the losses because it meant there was opportunity. Build a gallery wall of mistakes in your home and dance among it. Practice holding water in your hand, so you learn to let go. Choose those who choose you.

Dear Future Daughter,

There is so much to know about this life, yet you'll never know it all. Only the bits you're supposed to know -- when you're supposed to know it. There will be more nights where you eat mac and cheese on the kitchen floor crying; not because anything happened, but because you're healing, than others gathered with you drinking wine. You'll start a career and it won't be like college. People seem cold and jaded, don't let them steal your enthusiasm. When you and everyone else from college choose to stay, don't feel bad when you pursue the same career and don't decide to befriend them again. Allow your circle to be sacred. There will be boys and men who enjoy you for who you are now. Not because of your history. Not because of who you might be, but because right now you talk too loud, and you're an anxious mess, but you still manage to have a good time together. You'll laugh with someone else, again, and it will feel like freedom. They will respect the void in your heart and not try and fill it. Allow it to be. Not everything has to have a past or a future. Somethings are meant for right now, like the laughter and squeezing in social hours and having three servings of Mac and cheese.