The stages of grief are not linear. They are random and unpredictable, folding back on themselves until you begin mourning all over again. I have bargained with a universe that is not listening. I have cried until I’m empty and sick of myself. I have been caught in a web of sadness, my every movement weaving me tighter and tighter. I have given myself over to acceptance; not that he is gone, but that I can’t live without him. Screaming my lungs out on a solitary beach four hundred miles from home says otherwise and it terrifies me. It says I can live without Ben and that terrifies me more.
My breath catches in my chest as I realize Keane Sullivan is the person Ben wanted to be. Tried to be. He hid his insecurities behind a mask of ebullience, planning an adventure he never intended to have, a life he never intended to live. Instead, he sailed out on a tide of pills and tequila. Instead, I am taking this trip with the person Ben could have been. Should have been.