As I stood in the parking lot holding Ady a few moments for what turned out to be the last time ever... she asked me the inevitable question, "Can we still be friends?"

We had done pretty well to that point, some tears on both sides, but thats to be expected when you're walking away from someone after seven years.

I had given this question an unbelieveable ammount of thought, and I knew she was going to ask me... because she always had when we broke up in the past, and we had always told each other no matter what we would be friends...

For seven years we had been... lovers... best friends... a single person in two bodies...

I felt tears start to well up in my eyes before I even opened my mouth...

Then I said the hardest words of my entire life. I said very simply, "I'm sorry, but I can't, I'll never be able to let you go."

I think she almost hit me, I can't be sure, but she jerked like she had stuck a fork in a light socket.

Then the tears really started for both of us.

She asked me how I could do this to her after being her best friend for seven years... how I could just walk away...

How can you answer your best friend when they ask that question?
How can you answer the lover who you still want?
How can you answer the person you thought you would marry and spend a lifetime with?

There is no good answer to any of those questions and the real answer is simple and selfish. When it comes to pain, I've been hurt enough in life. To see her all the time, to brush against her skin as we passed through doors, to know the woman I love had choosen something or someone else over me... I wasn't willing to be hurt anymore.

It still hurts. A lot. Even though I know what I'm feeling now is nothing compared to the pain I would have endured watching her move on with her life while I quietly loved her in the distance.

So the moral of the story? Don't ever ask that question. Enjoy the last touch. The last words. The last eye contact. The last time the person will wipe a tear from your face in compassion. Just let it go and if you both can be friends, all the better-- but let it happen in its own time, because the pain of the memory of a situation like this isn't worth the asking... and its not an easy question to answer truthfully. It hurts too much no matter how you answer.

Never, for any reason, ever, ever, no matter what you do, ask Can we still be friends?.