| Words Unspoken |

To the Last One Standing

If we got engaged at the same time, no one would have to leave the other behind


To the Last One Standing,

I remember speaking one night after yet another dating saga ended. We sat on the boardwalk near the lake, our feet dangling over the moving waters.

There used to be five of us hanging out at the lake. Then one got engaged, married. There were four of us left, then three. Then there were two.

“It wasn’t this one, but there’s someone out there waiting for you,” you told me, “Hopefully it will actually work out soon.”

“For you as well,” I added.

You and I were in this together. The late-night calls about “Oh-my-goodness-can-you-believe-what-happened,” and the understanding smirk when yet another kind woman says, “Maybe you’d be married if you smiled more.”

We took turns playing mentor and mentee. “I’m so nervous about this date,” I’d say, and you’d remind me that it would only last until I got in the car. A few weeks later, the roles would switch. I’d stress about running out of things to talk about, and you’d remind me that it never happens.

We had our plans. If we bumped into each other on a date, we’d count five minutes and then meet in the bathroom to catch up. If a great spot got ruined by the memories of a not-great date, we’d go back to reclaim it as our own.

It was you I called when the plans I had fell apart, or when I needed a burger to quench the empty yearning. We were the only ones left to make summer plans together, and you were the only one I still felt comfortable crying to. You understood. You got it. You were there, too.

Still, though, as I reminded you that day on the lake, “It’s more fun when you’re the one dating. Can you go next?”

“How about we do the next one together?” you laughed. “How fun would it be if we dated the right people at the same time?”

It would be. And deep down, I know we were both thinking the same thing. If we got engaged at the same time, no one would have to leave the other behind.

Because after years, we both knew the truth. Things do change. You can make promises to call and commitments to stay in touch, but life isn’t the same anymore. Once you’re married, the dynamic shifts. Priorities are adjusted. You have less free time.

Eventually, it would happen. One of us would say “yes” to marrying the person we waited for, and the other would be left on her own.

There would be two, and then there would be one.

And now, as you stand there alone, my heart is breaking. I understand your pain in a way that many others never will. I can even taste your tears. But we’re not in it together anymore.

You’ll feel silly crying about another bad date when I’m sitting there with my husband. You’ll feel vulnerable sharing your pain when I’m not experiencing it anymore.

If it were possible to stand with a foot in two worlds, I would. I’d enjoy every happy moment of my simchah and still be there for you just the same, but the best of intentions can’t change the facts. We’re not both single anymore.

Once again, our lives didn’t go according to plan. Our chapter didn’t end at the same time, and as hard as I cry, you’re standing there alone. But to the Last One Standing, know this: A piece of my heart is still standing there with you.

With love,

The Second to Last


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 872)

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