And yet I did. In September he would fly to college and, even more final, his family was relocating. “It just makes more sense for us to end things now.” I’d never experienced a boy pulling away. Despite the sickening sense of foreboding in recent days, I hadn’t determined what his uneasiness portended.
I asked if he still loved me and he choked up and said he didn’t think he did. Wanting nothing more than to weave myself intractably around his tan wrist, I told him that if he left tonight he should never call again. He was satisfyingly tortured by this ultimatum and then he was gone.
I stood on (freshly-shaved) numb legs beside the steaming graduation meal I’d cooked. My mother and stepfather were away trying to save their marriage and I was—we were to be—un-chaperoned. As his minivan backed out on the gravel I went from being the girl he whispered he loved, to being alone.I walked directly to the phone and called my pre-Stu crush who sat with me on the back porch as I mentally scale the ravine of pain deepening by the second. I don’t remember anything we said. Then I was alone again. I called my father who lived a few hours away and asked him, for the first time, to come get me.
As we drove under the moon, my Dad said gently, “This is going to sound laughably impossible, but tomorrow there’ll be a tiny window where you won’t just feel better, you’ll feel euphoric because you’ll glimpse the fact that you’re going to live through this.”
Laughable was an understatement. I sat catatonic between my younger brothers watching The Little Mermaid. Staring at the VCR clock, my brain ticked through moments that’d never come again. When Stu would call. When we’d meet. When he’d kiss me.And then, sometime that next day, I distinctly remember sitting on the edge of the pool with my pajama pants rolled up. The sun blasted the plastic aqua liner and in one breath I felt amazing—for a second. I hadn’t forgotten I was dumped. It’s just that I knew and I knew it wasn’t going to kill me. Just one breath. Then the pain swelled and I was under again. But it was a start.
That miserable summer as my mother and I both nursed broken hearts, the window did get bigger, day by day, breath by breath. I would go onto write this reminder—this compassionate design of the brain—into my latest book, Over You. In fact, all my books would culminate in the heroine’s first moment of realizing she’d survive what we’d put her through and be happier for it.
Emma’s new book, Over You, is out now! Get it! Read it! Love it!