You precede me on this journey. You lead not because you know better where we are going but because that is who you are. I follow not because I am a follower but because I want you to be who you are. I have had my chance to find my path. It is now your turn.
I can feel more than see the distance growing between us. I know deep down it is only a matter of time before our paths diverge. It cannot last. Is it worth the pain I will feel when you leave?
You get further ahead, then wait for me to catch up. The space between us increases more each time you decide to stop. I could ask you to slow down, but I won’t. This is your journey. I worry that you’re losing patience waiting, that I’m slowing you down. How long will it be before you decide to just keep going?
I watch you walk as I struggle to keep up, afraid I will lose sight of you. What will happen if I do? Your stride is so much longer than mine, your pace more determined. I prefer to travel slowly, stopping to appreciate the way the light shines on a staircase made of stones. Or pause to examine a thick root, revealed by erosion, worn smooth by countless feet that have been dragged across it. I want to take time to appreciate how it clings, tenaciously holding the earth in place. But the distance grows and I’m scared I’ll never catch up.
Perhaps we were never meant to walk this path together. It’s impossible to know, and so I will try to enjoy what time we have. I’ll be grateful you were there to encourage me when the path became so steep I didn’t think I could make it. I’ll remember with fondness the quiet time together sitting on the rocky ridge, feeling like the only two people on the edge of the world.
And when it’s time, I will let you go.
Up ahead there’s a bend in the trail. Will you stop? No, you’re out of sight now, and maybe I won’t see you again. Maybe you’re done waiting for me. Perhaps you regret waiting for me to begin with.
Just beyond the bend the trail splits. Which way did you go? There’s no way for me to know, no telltale signs. In the end it doesn’t matter. I need to choose the direction that’s right for me, just as you have chosen what is best for you.
Our paths might cross again some day, after all they do wind and weave, crossing each other more often than we realize.
All I know for certain is that it was worth it. You were worth it.