When I placed your photo on my shelf last week I was full of doubt: I wondered whether it would feel good or whether it would hurt.

A little over a week in I can say that I only say greet you when I’m full. When I am empty and lonely I don’t stay engaged with you. When my heart is big I send you a quiet hello. I don’t linger or wait for a response.

I do not use your photo to feel happy or sad. I do not pick it up to idealize or to fantasize. It is not an altar. Perhaps I have grown weary of haunting ghosts with my loneliness; or perhaps they have grown weary of me.

I look at the photo now only to make sure I am being honest with myself. I see someone imperfect and beautiful. I see someone who broke my heart and also filled my life with love. I feel love and respect.

If I were to share this with you would tell me it was unnecessary. You gave me your blessing and called it “sweet” that I printed the photo. You trusted me. My way of honoring that trust (even though you are not asking for anything) is to not use your photo. And if I do so I will only use it as a barometer: a way of seeing where I am in relation to my heart.

I am sad and lonely right now. But there is nothing in this photo that can make that any better or worse. I place it back on the shelf and quietly make my lunch.

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