Love blindly and love like you have never loved before. Love with wide eyes and dimpled cheeks and outstretched arms. Love their stories and their hopes and their family’s names. Soak in the sound of their laughter. Sing to their favourite songs. Retell their favourite jokes. Love people like it’s your first love: tell them your secrets, your childhood memories and make plans for the future together. Keep nothing hidden, and delight in what makes them laugh.
Love them even more as you start to uncover their flaws, because you can finally see that they are real. Love their impatience or their closed mind or their lateness. Love the way they can be a snob over music, or coffee, or books. Love them unequivocally, because it’s these little bits which make them so wonderful. Spend evenings listening to their tone deaf singing, and eat their burnt baking, and hold them up when they are too drunk to stand. Continue loving them when they let you down, or make a careless comment, or lie, because people make mistakes, because no one is beyond forgiveness. Throw them parties without expecting thank yous, write them letters when you expect no response, continue hugging them when their arms fall loose. Love them because you know that they are still there, somewhere underneath that mess which has mounted between the two of you.
Continue loving them blindly until they wipe mud on your eyes and you can finally see. Then watch them unfurl into the person you never thought they could be. Love them anyway. Continue to come over to their house, and make them tea, and listen to their problems. Keep laughing at their jokes, even when their voice has lost that melody. Constantly remind yourself of the good times: the folk concerts, or when they held you when everything was breaking down, or becoming part of their family. Keep loving them and keep making excuses until you finally stare at their face and realise how ugly they have become.
And then, I don’t know how to go on. Do you keep living for the days when the sun shines on their face; when the person you used to know knocks on your door? Do you continue to love the person that they used to be; the person that they claim to be? Or should you stop waiting for them to come home?
Because, either way, it’s going to hurt.