We never said goodbye without saying I love you. Our voices rang through my girlfriend’s front door, down the short hallway and the stairs leading outside. I clung to her Iloveyous like rosary beads, wound them round my finger, let them rest inside my hurting heart. We knew she was leaving even though she kept strong and only cried a few seconds at a time. Never weeping. So we did what women do: parted when we had to and coated each other with love each time we were together. I can’t remember ever forgetting to tell her I love you. Now I wonder what to do with all the love I’d reserved for her. Now our Iloveyous are slung across my back like a sack of potatoes. Now I question if we really did love each other or were we just singing? Now I am often lonely. Sometimes I search the alleys of my life and find there’s not much there. I picture random moments from the thirty plus years of our friendship and I have a crazy thought: what if she is somewhere right now missing me too? What if, when we said I love you, we meant it forever? What if love lives on even after our loved one has died? What if they keep saying I love you and we just can’t hear them? Maybe every promise my Beloved and I made is still true. What if we didn’t really say goodbye last August? Perhaps we’re still at that tiny outdoor table at Eastern Market drinking juice (wish I could remember what kind) and acting like she isn’t wasting away. She’s thin and chic and has finally found a diet that works. She’s not having trouble walking because she’s sick; she’s limping because she’s tired, it’s been a long day. Call me crazy but just for tonight I’m going to go to bed believing we’re heading to see Prince tomorrow night at the Verizon Center and giggling all the way to the concert. I’ll cover my head with my comforter and let her big, round laughter lull me to sleep. I’ll whisper I love you into the air and wait for her to say it back. And rest, knowing she means it.