Despite feeling like I was in a timeless void, spring break arrived just in time. It took every bit of strength within myself to get my work done, get packed, and get home to Dallas. I had to hand an essay in late and even messaged my tutor the brutal details of my emotional state to incite some sympathy so he’d grant me an extension. I hate this never-ending schedule we all live on. Time refuses to stop. I remember how you came all the way to see me last year for your spring break from school. Perks of being a teacher. We had an absolute blast. It was your first time coming to visit without Carter and we decided to go to Glasgow and conquer the city. All we did was walk around, explore, eat, and laugh. Constant, deep belly, good for the soul, laughter. The kind of laughter that was perpetual whenever we were together. Who knew the Pentagon was in Glasgow! And Mecca! The Grande Ole Opry too. I haven’t decided if the memories of our trip that Facebook and Snapchat keep showing me are making me a happy kind of sad or a sad kind of happy. I’m grateful for the reminders of happier times, nonetheless. 

Mom thought that I should spend the entire spring break this year at home. She urged me to cancel my upcoming vacation. She thought my ongoing mental and physical health problems could be solved by her personal favorite method: laying in bed and pretending the day isn’t occurring outside. She caused a scene and tried to convince Dad that I needed to rest and take it easy. Like most things, she was wrong. Thank God I went to Hawaii. The week I spent there changed me for the better. Some Eat, Pray, Love shit for you. As soon as Georgia and I got to DFW airport we started laughing. We laughed the entire trip onward. We only stopped laughing when we needed to take a drink, rip the juul, or go to sleep. I love her for the constant light and vulgarity she brings into my life. I tell her everyday, now. I marveled at the splendor of nature in Hawaii and felt gratitude for the ability to be in such a beautiful place and experience it for all its wonders. Each day was met with adventure. We woke up at the crack of dawn without an alarm. We hiked. We swam in waterfalls. We learned how to surf with new friends. We road tripped to beautiful destinations like those seen in Jurassic Park. We took a helicopter and a boat ride. We (I) cliff jumped. We swam with sea turtles. I loved every bit of clarity I was given simply by being taken out of the St. Andrews bubble. 

I saw myself, in the face of strangers who became friends, as an individual. I saw myself as a person who didn’t need to be someone’s younger sister or girlfriend to feel safe and confident. I could do that on my own, titles not included. With the love and appreciation of those I was with, my closest friends, our family, and the strength within myself, I cleaned out my heart and began to take out everything that didn’t matter. I gathered all the regret, hatred, and self-deprecation I could carry in one go. Now, I have more space for love and optimism. On my own, I now know I’m whole.

I still miss you in everything I do. In every adventure, I still wish you were along for the ride or at least able to be Snapchatted within an instant. I wish I could tell you all of my stories from the trip in person. You would laugh with me, at me, and remind me that I’m not invincible but I live an exciting life. The eternal longing for your presence will always be there but it’s getting easier to be grateful that you were there for any time at all. Who would I be without those 22 years together? A lot less funny, that’s for sure.

I only cried once in Hawaii when I had too much to drink and thought you were the night’s sky trying to communicate with me. I mean, the stars don’t just blink like that normally. I could have sworn I saw the moon wink. Was it really you or was it the tequila talking? Unfortunately, I assume the latter. I texted Carter and told her “there’s a bright star blinking at me and I think it’s Ike. The moon is staring me in the eyes telling me it is. I keep praying to God, hoping he’s okay.  I hope he’s still alive and happy somewhere, even if it’s not with us. I hope he’s still Ike somewhere.” Standing under the super moon, I wrote your name in the sand with my toes and the waves washed it away as they cleaned my feet. Poetic, right?