I hated long distance relationships with a passion. I always wanted to hug and kiss the person I love on a daily basis. You know what's worse? When you have a long distance friendship with the person you love. But, when my long time love decided to take classes in America, I had no choice.
I had no idea what real hell was.
I stayed strong for those months, only calling him on occasion. I don't talk very much, so it was mainly to hear his voice and tell him I miss him when I had the balls too.
I visited his parents' house often, looking at the pictures from when we were kids. We had grown up together and his parents didn't question my constant visiting. They just saw me as another one of their kids.
I'd go into his old bedroom when they weren't looking and lay on his bed silently, staring at the posters on his walls. He had been my first love. My only love. But before all that, he had been my best friend.
When we had been kids we went to the same school. He was the new kid, but for some odd reason he still started talking to me. We became fast friends for some unknown reason. I mean, he's amazing. And what am I? Quiet? Awkward? Scary? All of the above?
He was lovely as a summers day. His hair a golden blond, grown down to his ears. His eyes a violet color that couldn't compare to any flower. His skin was softer then silk and paler then snow. I, throughout all of my teenage years. I, throughout watching him go through countless partners. I, throughout my entire time knowing him, never met anyone nearly as lovely as he is. I doubt I ever will.
I'd go into his old bedroom when they weren't looking and lay on his bed silently, staring at the posters on his walls. I'd twiddle my thumbs, remembering what it was like when he was home.
Throughout our many summers together we had spent so much time in his bedroom. We had sleepovers and parties for just the two of us and our stuffed animals. We listened to music and danced because no one was watching. We talked and we listened and we cried and we even cuddled a few times on the cold nights that Finland could bring in the depths of winter.
All of the best moments of my life took place in that room.
But, all good things come to an end. After a while of laying, staring into my memories, I'd get up and have to come back to a harsh reality. I was still here. He was still not. That was something that didn't seem like it was changing.
I went about my life as usual. I went to work, I went home, I slept. I went to his parent's house and lay on his bed for hours, staring at the walls that used to contain our laughter. I sat in front of my phone and stare at it, willing it to ring.
It rang less and less, to the point that even when it did ring, I never expected it to be him. One day, I considered not even answering, not wanting to pull myself from the couch. But I forced myself, and when I heard the voice on the other line, my heart raced.
We got through the conversation, it going just about normal, until he said the thing that changed everything.
"Hey, I was thinking about coming to visit for Christmas! Take two weeks off or so, come home and spend some time with everyone!"
My heart stopped. He was coming back? Even if it was only for such a short amount of time? I nodded before realizing he couldn't see me.
"Yah… sounds good."
I hadn't even realized Christmas was coming. It was his favorite holiday and I hadn't even noticed it coming. I quickly cleaned my home and set to decorating it, wanting it to be perfect. I wanted him to remember.
The date he was flying out was getting closer and closer, and I was getting more and more excited. Even my co-workers knew something was going on. I smiled a few times throughout the day and you would have thought they thought the world was going to end.
I was watching the late night news the night before he was expected back when the story came on.
"BREAKING NEWS. Tragic plane wreck a few days before Christmas. Plane went down in the middle of the Atlantic. Death toll unknown at the moment, however chances of survival are slim. The plane was carrying over 150 people. We will have more tomorrow."
I had a heart attack instantly and picked up the phone, dialing his parents. It couldn't be his plane. It couldn't be his plane. That wouldn't happen. That couldn't happen. When I heard their shaky voices, I knew it did.
I drove over to their home where I found both of them in their nightclothes with tear stained faces. I hugged them silently, holding in tears of my own. We found our way into the living room silently and sat ourselves in front of the TV, turned on to the news, and we waited. We didn't really talk, not wanting to say it out loud. Not with what was going to come out.
That was, of course, until four AM when I pulled a picture frame with his school picture in it off the table and into my hands. I studied his features from when we were in high school. His hair had grown out, tucking around his chin. His purple eyes twinkled in the picture and his grin showed off his teeth that were perfectly imperfect. Everything about him was beautiful.
And I cried.
My broken sobs broke the quiet amongst us in the room. I clasped a hand over my mouth as my whole body shook with the horrid hiccupping. His mother moved from her spot to sit by my side and stroke my back, but that made the tears flow from my eyes faster, making me feel like there were waterfalls in my eyes. She tried to comfort me quietly, knowing that I don't cry. I never cry.
But I was unable to see through the water filling my eyes.
We made it through the night, and when the news report came on in the morning, it gave us more information.
"Late last night there was a tragedy. A plane went down in the middle of the Atlantic, carrying 165 passengers. 154 people are confirmed dead. Eleven still have yet to be found. Our prayers are with the families of these victims today."
We all cried this time.
Later in the day officials got in contact with his parents. I actually prayed that he would be amongst the bodies found. I knew there was no way the eleven people would have made it. I wanted his body to come back. I wanted to say goodbye. I didn't care how damaged he'd be. I didn't think I could deal with him never coming home.
But he was amongst the bodies that were missing.
The bodies that were missing.
They didn't think he even had a chance of returning. Neither did I. I felt my hope be thrown from the window.
The next few days were hell. I stayed at his parent's house, sticking to the couch. I didn't go into his bedroom. I couldn't bare it.
After a week went by and still his body was never found, he was assumed to be dead. We stopped watching the news because we didn't want to hear any more about the 'tragic plane crash' or how there 'prayers are with those affected'.
Honestly dear, I could care less for your prayers or your sympathy.
The boy I loved my entire life was gone. Before I ever told him what he meant to me.
We had services a week later. Everyone came, giving his parents and me hugs and sympathetic embraces and words before continuing around, talking to the others that knew him. I stayed beside his parents rather than my own, being treated like a member of the family.
Many people said words, and I was offered too, but I declined. I could not share my pain that I was drowning in with these people. I barely knew them. Why would I show them how much pain I was in? Why would I let them see me at the weakest moment in my life?
When I finally went home, back to my apartment, I looked around at the place. It was decorated for Christmas. His favorite holiday.
I found my way back to my bedroom and closed myself within.
My work had already given me a week off, but I managed to get another one. When that was up and I could still barely bare to come out of my bedroom, I told them I'd have to quit. They eventually agreed after a long protest. I told them that at some point, I'd reapply. But I couldn't deal with it now.
We made it to January. Then February. Then March. I still visited his parents every day, but I could never quite look his mother in the eyes again.
They were the same color as his.
When April came, there was another disaster. When I got the sobbing call, I wondered if they had found his body finally.
But when I found out his dad had a heart attack and was in critical condition, I couldn't believe it was even worse than I expected. I went back over to their house and stayed there with her through it, taking her to the hospital and visiting with him. He was like a second father to me. Just like she was like a second mother to me. I cried with her the day they took him off life support and helped her plan another funeral.
She asked me to stay over again, not wanting to be alone. I agreed, ending up staying at her home for an entire month and a half until she felt better and I returned home after that. I looked around. There were still Christmas decorations.
It was June.
In July I think I made a mistake.
I finally went back into his bedroom.
Everything was how he left it, except the wrinkles in the sheets which were from my last visit, all those months ago. I lay on his bed as I used to, and stared at the posters. I closed my eyes, and let out a few tears.
I thought I heard his laughter.
August, September, October, more of the same. I laid around in my decorated living room, sleep all day, and visit his mother.
November I spent with his Mom and we had thanksgiving together.
The beginning of December I drank away. His birthday was the sixth of December and I knew what was happening soon. One year. One year. I couldn't bare it.
I swam in a sea of vodka and tears. I could hear my phone ringing continuously but I ignored it, too lost in the abyss of darkness that totally engulfed me.
In the morning I felt like hell. I pulled myself off the couch, getting myself some water and pain medication. It took me almost an hour to check my phone, finding that I had five voice messages. I put my ear to my phone, listening to them in order. They were all from his mother.
"Hello? You have to come to the hospital! Now! Please, get here as soon as you can!"
"Please answer! Come quickly!"
"I really need you to pick up! It's really important!"
"Are you okay?! You never not answer your phone!"
"Never mind, please come to the house as soon as you can! As soon as you get this! I don't care what time it is, just come!"
In all of them she sounded panicked, and instantly my mind went to the worst possible scenarios. I got into my car despite my horrible hangover and drove to her house. I just walked in, not bother to knock.
The scene I saw was something I had never expected. I had expected to see her harmed, or the house destroyed or that there had been a fire. Never, ever this.
She was sitting on the couch, her hands petting the head of golden hair in her lap.
He was sleeping, sprawled out on the couch, head in his mother's lap. He was skinny, bone thin. He was freshly washed and wearing his old pajamas that looked a whole two sizes too big. He looked pale and sick.
But he was unmistakably breathing.
I stood in the doorway staring and she smiled up at me, tears running down her face. "We've been waiting for you. He's asked for you. He came home late last night."
I didn't feel myself as I crossed the room and got down on my knees to look at his sleeping face, terrified to touch him. What if he vanished into dust? Or if it was all a dream?
"He's missing a few teeth toes. He's having trouble walking a bit, and he's sick. But he's going to be okay." She whispered, brushing the long hair out of his face. Then she called his names a few times, and his eyes opened. They were the color I had been longing for for so long.
His eyes stared at me, almost as if he thought I would vanish as I thought he would. He sat up from his mother's lap and looked at me, almost in wonder.
Before I knew it I had my arms filled with him, and he was on the floor with me. His body was small and fragile under my hands, but that didn't matter. He was there. I let out a little tearless sob.
"Tino…" I whispered, clinging to him as much as he was clinging to me.
"Berwald… Berwald…" He whispered and I felt myself melt. He pushed himself against me. We separated slightly, arms still wrapped around each other. We looked into each other eyes and I felt myself feel like he wasn't the only one to come home. I did too.
And I knew what I needed to do. The thing I regretted never doing when he was gone.
Before either of us could process what I was doing, I leaned forward and pressed my lips against the man of my dreams'.
When I pulled away, both he and his mother looked shocked. She smiled before he did.
But when he processed it, he wordlessly wrapped his arms around me and clung to me again.
He was finally home.
And so was I.
"BREAKING NEWS. There has been one discovered survivor from the plane that went down, just before Christmas. Before now, there were no known survivors. They finally found him on a deserted island that is barely more than a sandbar. The survivor is currently declining interviews, wanting to spend his recovery with his family. More on this story at seven."