(This is a creative writing exercise. This may be a product of different real-life stories, inspired by books or films, personal experiences, or a little bit of everything mixed with imagination. Whatever prompted this will always be a mystery. For added effect, you may start playing Lifetime by Ben & Ben in the background while you read. You may also sit by the window and I hope the rain is pouring down. WARNING: 1159 words ahead.)
Somewhere in our lives, we came across a person that has become our Could-Have-Been. He may be someone we knew for years, someone we met for a short while, someone we’ve been friends with since we were young, or someone we recently collided. Whichever case it is, this person have left memories in our hearts and left us wondering, “what if?”. We spent time pondering with possibilities, hoping that one day, we would find ourselves seeing them eye to eye finding answers to the questions in our heads. Days, weeks, months have passed. Then it suddenly turned into years. And it didn’t happen. We were led somewhere farther — beyond their reach, a thousand more miles away.
We grew and became a different person from the time we knew them. We continued with life, learning, maturing, finding our ways toward our future. Looking back, we might have made it, if not for our dreams. We were young, driven by goals, hopeful, and passionate. Slowly we entered the world wanting to make a difference as we find our purpose and our place in this life. We chose to pursue or dreams and it led us to different directions. It meant goodbye at the time. Whether temporarily or for good, we were yet to discover. And we learned that even good decisions can cause heartaches.
As we continued to chase our dreams, we also went on to drift away from the person we wished we had beside us. We led different lives from them, and we started to see a different future ahead of us. They slowly fade from our day-to-day and turned into a distant memory, but we were left with unsettled feelings and thoughts that linger in our hearts as if refusing to move until we get a defined ending. Oftentimes we found ourselves aching for the chances we could have taken. We tried weighing if the steps we took were worthwhile or if there were some compromise we could have preferred. We were torn between waiting and letting everything go.
I know at some point, most of us hung around for a short while or a little longer than most, and waited. We held on to the feelings we obtained from the past that somehow made it to our present reality. We wagered on the probability that it could still happen in the coming days. Waiting seemed sensible until waiting felt futile. We were not sure anymore if what we were feeling was real or just a preserved impression of the notion we nurtured for so long. Then we met another. Someone in our present, here and now, and every piece of the puzzle seems to fit.
It could have been our Could-Have-Been. But somehow, the timing was always off. We kept missing them by a split second then the ship had sailed again. Chasing dreams had led us out of their ways. Life had made us exists in a totally different world from them. We did not keep our Could-Have-Been because we didn’t want to be the reason for them not to go after their dreams. They did not keep us because they didn’t want to be the reason why we give up on our dreams. Unexpectedly, we met the right one along the way. It made us realize the answers to all our whys and how it made all doubts disappear. Or perhaps we hadn’t met the right person yet but we already knew in our hearts that a chapter in our lives had ended and we chose to let go. Meeting the right person does not change the fact that what we felt before wasn’t real.
We might had stronger feelings for our Could-Have-Been. We might felt happier. It might be the time of our lives when we were wearing our hearts on our sleeves. But this is where we fully comprehend that love is not about feelings. The difference lies in commitment. Love is a decision. There is a point in our lives where we have to make a choice that we can stand by for the rest of our lives. We decide to explicitly give our hearts to someone like we’ve never done before and we make a commitment that no matter what happens, no matter where life brings us, whoever we meet along the way, we will choose them over and over again. Something we did not do with our Could-Have-Been. Something we were not ready to do for our Could-Have-Been. Something we were not willing to do with our Could-Have-Been.
Even as we choose another, there is still an ounce of love left for our Could-Have-Been. It may not be the same love as before, or the same love we offer to the right one. This love comes in another form that no time nor circumstance can take away. We still keep them in our prayers, cheering them on as they continue to chase their dreams. We hope for joy, peace, and success to follow them wherever they go. We want them to be covered in strength and wisdom especially in times of affliction. We celebrate with their wins and we grieve with their sorrows, even from a distance. You see, we never really stopped loving them. It was just appropriated. Deep in our hearts we still wish the best for them.
It may be a bittersweet memory but one day, an accidental encounter may happen. We may cross paths with them again. We can smile, renew the friendship because we did not get caught up with old feelings and we allowed ourselves to move forward with life. We can talk to them about how we met the right one. And maybe our future kids can become friends with their future kids as well. We can carry their impact in our lives without holding us back from the future that we have chosen. They may have become a far-off memory, but our hearts will always recognize that they were also once part of our youth when we get to spend monumental days of our lives.
To our Could-Have-Been, thank you for allowing us to feel the way we did back in our days. Fate have placed us in different windows of time. We don’t know if you heard those words left unspoken. We tucked away your memories in the treasure box of our heart’s childhood home. We moved on with life taking with us the lessons we got from when our lives had intersected. Know that we always keep you in our prayers hoping that you’ll fulfill what you’re meant to do in life. Whatever the future may bring, we hope that you’ll grow to become the best version of yourself. May you find the right person who can support your dreams and whose dreams you can support as well. May you continue to live life to the full as we also give our best to the life ahead of us.