archives, you & me

The Last Letter My Ex Never Wrote Me.

I woke up in the early hours this morning, having been visited by you.

You stole into my head, gregarious and laughing, as though a decade hadn’t already passed since I last saw you. As though I would know you on sight — which I did, of course — as though there were no amends to be made. You simply arrived, bluster and bullshit and fire, and greeted me like we’d seen each other yesterday.

I wondered, why now?

Then I remembered Pluto tap-dancing in my astrological chart since the very day we met, and realized you might be surfacing again so I can finally close the door on that chapter of my life. You arrive at each critical juncture in my growth, ready to challenge whether I will make the leap into the new life, the new job, and now, finally, a new relationship.

You tattooed me in lots of ways that I can’t articulate. You left your fingerprints everywhere.

And then, you didn’t even say goodbye.

How could you do that?

How could you leave me standing in the swelter of evening in Arizona, waiting for you, and call me on my cell to say, “Aw. Can’t make it. My class just got out,” while I heard women talking to you in the background?

It was mid-September. A few days earlier, you’d helped me put my bed-frame together and then dropped me on campus for a meeting. As I got out of the truck, you waved me off, tapped the horn.

That’s the last moment I had with you.

I didn’t even look back because I didn’t know.

Now, I awaken with this sense of grief, torn open again. It enrages me that I never got closure. I never got a scrap of respect, even after spending two years of my life in your bed, pinned down with longing, heart pounding, skin burning as your hands traced the lines of my body.

If I’d gotten that ‘Dear John Letter’, what might it have said?

I’m sorry. I’m sorry I drove out of your life and I didn’t tell you that’s what I planned to do. I didn’t want to hurt you. I thought seeing me again would only make things worse.

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I misjudged you. Maybe I owed you an explanation, an apology, a goodbye.

But I couldn’t do it.

I couldn’t bring myself to face you. I couldn’t see you and say anything. I had no excuses. I had no reasons. I felt terrified and tired and paralyzed by what you saw in me. I didn’t want to see you look at me with grief and disgust — and I was sure that’s what would confront me.

I didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t want to feel anything. I just wanted to chop it off, like a dead branch, and drop it by the curb to be picked up with the trash.

I couldn’t say what needed to be said because I didn’t know what to say. How could seeing you again make that ending any different? We still would have parted. You know this. You know that whatever had bloomed between us couldn’t survive. I wasn’t myself with you. I showed you only what I wanted you to see.

And truth be told, you showed me only what you wanted me to see. We weren’t meant to stay together. We couldn’t tell the truth.

We had work to do that we couldn’t do together. It needed to be done on our own.

And, yes, sometimes you visit my dreams, even now.

And sometimes I wonder about what might have been if you — truly the best friend I’ve ever had — could have stayed in my life and I could have stayed in yours. Perhaps we could have gone deeper and wider than we thought possible.

I do wonder. I know you do too.

Ten years. I still think of you, think of how we changed each other, think of what happened between us in the dark, on the road, over countless plates of enchiladas and pork pot stickers and pho from the restaurant around the corner from your apartment.

I miss that rawness, that emotion skimming the surface of everything.

I miss listening to you laugh. I miss playing word games in the car.

I miss you.

I’m so very sorry.


And is there catharsis to be found in writing my own apology, in bidding myself goodbye?

Strangely, yes.

On some energetic level, I believe I am channeling the message he wants to send me. I believe we still communicate in invisible ways. I believe his inner child still talks to mine because they loved each other so profoundly.

His better angels show up to download his apology into my blood, my bones, my DNA.

I believe that anyone who occupied such a huge space in my life — if only for 24 months and change — cannot be wholly erased.

That relationship simply composted inside of me until something new could flower.

No one has occupied that space since he left.

Soon, someone will.

How do I know?

I feel something seeding, taking root. I feel a sense that the greening of the next phase of my life is here.


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Shavawn Berry

Shavawn Berry

Big Mammu, Mischief Maker, and Chief Creative Contessa at Shavawn M. Berry, LLC
Shavawn M. Berry’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, elephant journal, Olentangy Review, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Be You Media Group, Vagina – The Zine, Rebelle Society, The Cancer Poetry Project 2, Kinema Poetics, Kalliope, Poet Lore, Westview - A Journal of Western Oklahoma, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Concho River Review, North Atlantic Review, Synapse, Living Buddhism, Blue Mountain Arts/SPS, and Poetry Seattle to name a few. Her technique essay on the dramatic monologue/persona poem is featured in a poetry database published in 2013 by Ebsco Publishing. In 1998, she received her MPW in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles where she specialized in Creative Nonfiction and Memoir. Ms. Berry teaches writing online for Arizona State University where she has won numerous teaching awards including a 2013 Lincoln Ethics Teaching Fellowship. Since 2014 she has been mentoring student interns through the Pen Project, a writing and editing internship offered by Arizona State that allows students to critique and offer feedback to incarcerated writers in Arizona and New Mexico. You can read more of her work on her blog, The Wonderland Files, via her website. A portfolio featuring a selection of her essays, blog postings, and prose is available at under her name. You can reach her via her Facebook page where she chats with like-minded, open-hearted people. She loves animals of all kinds, nature, the ocean, the desert, travel, the southwest, and most particularly her new home, in Santa Fe, NM. She offers creative coaching, writing webinars and workshops, and retreats through her website.
Shavawn Berry
Shavawn Berry
Shavawn Berry