We met for lunch. He was sweet and kind and funny, all the things that made me love him, and make me love him still. I was quiet, smiling weakly at most things, not certain how I would bring it up. We walked around for awhile and I bought lace to make a shawl to go with my dress. The heat was making me feel sick; we went back to the place where The Boyfriend was staying and napped on a bare mattress lying on the floor. I got up to leave for work, and asked The Boyfriend to walk with me to the Metro. He was planning to stay and sleep more, but came with me since I asked. I held his hand as we walked down the street. I don't remember if we were talking or just walking silently, but I stopped, still holding his hand. I don't want to date you, I said. I can't do this anymore. I was crying, and he pulled me into a hug, and stroked my hair. It's okay, I understand. I'm not around and it isn't fair to you.
He kept holding me, and when we started walking again, we were still holding hands. I love you, and you're still my best friend, he told me, and I told him I love him too. And I do, oh I do, but that isn't always enough.
I didn't go to work. Instead we walked home through the park, me crying half the time. The Boyfriend told me I can ask him for help whenever I need it, that he won't let anything bad happen to me. He asked if we could still go out for breakfast in the morning, and if he could still take The Dogger out for a walk. (yes, and yes). He told me he'll see me when I move to the New City, and that he may find work out there at some point. And maybe he will, and maybe then there will be the chance of a relationship between us again, but I can't do the long distance thing. It isn't that I can't do the long distance, but that I can't do it with him.
And so now it is over. The person who made me soup and sandwiches for dinner when I came home from school late, the person who loved my dogs and gave them a million billion nicknames, who helped pick paint colours and hung pictures, who insisted on washing my hair at the salon, who gave me baths and washed my back, who sang me silly songs, who held my hair while I vomited from my pre-surgery antibiotics, and who, when I no longer had hair to hold back from the vomit, held the cardboard container I threw up in, dumping the dirty ones and bringing me clean ones, never complaining - that person is not my boyfriend anymore. But he is my friend, and I am thankful for that.