How to Say Sorry

You do not say sorry when you can’t say, “I don’t want to sleep on the couch tonight.”

You do not say sorry as a substitute for I love you. Sorry means you understand that something broke, I love you means you can fix it together. That you will fix it together.

You do not say sorry just to shut someone up. You do not say sorry as a knee-jerk reaction. You do not say sorry when someone is crying. It is not a pacifier for a broken heart that needs an explanation.

You do not say sorry five seconds later, when she isn’t even done speaking yet. You do not say sorry five years later, when she has long been finished talking and has heard nothing since other than the sound of you walking away.

There is a prerequisite to apology. The word sorry does not exist in a void. And you do not shout it out into a black hole.

It needs the intensity equal to a kiss so passionate it removes all the bad taste of yesterday and makes your lips bleed. It needs the force equal to the pull of two bodies coming together for the first time. It needs to stop time. It needs the harmony of every beautiful sound you’ve ever heard—the whistle of a kettle at seven in the morning signaling that tea is ready, her audible intake of breath that turns immediately into a smile when she sees that you’d been watching her sleep.

Sorry does not exist in a void. It is a wagon that you fill with your laughter captured in photographs. So when you say it, you bring everything that brought you together in the first place. You drag along the happy days and leave behind the bad nights. You let them fall behind.

Because you do not say sorry and say goodbye at the same time.

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