The Gaps People Leave Behind

To love is to let love and pain blend into one.

Martina D.
3 min readSep 21, 2022


Doors closed behind, hearts left behind, and cats sabotaging your departure. /Photo: author

Cake for lunch.

Either that, or a £27 selection box of fine vegan chocolates.

That’s how I know things have gone bad.

I mean, surely I should be used to it by now. My boyfriend and I have been together for 13 years. He leaves me to go on long tours with bands 2–3 times a year.

Sometimes, I look forward to the peace. To knowing I’ll have more time to read, will get to secretly clear-out the wardrobe (“yes, this tshirt does have five holes but I’ll keep it for when the flat needs painting”), and that the kitchen surfaces will stay clean.

Yet when the day comes it still always leaves me feeling unprepared. Taken aback by the void. The energy left behind. The woody smell of his aftershave lingering in the bathroom hours after he walked out the door.

The flight-size deodorant, hand gel and earphones sitting neatly on his bedside table ready for the carry-on but forgotten in a last-minute rush to catch his Uber leave me in tears.

The cats are also sad. They know what an open suitcase on the bed means. They lay in it and sleep in it to try and disrupt the packing process in silent protest.

But despite all the efforts we may or may not make it still happens, and people come and go. They move. They go on to pursue their lives and their dreams. Or they leave this world behind altogether. And the lack of their presence creates voids in the lives of others.

Like the gap my boyfriend’s left to continue living his dream career, despite the pain I saw in his eyes and felt in his hug goodbye. I respect him a lot for that.

Like the gap the Queen has left after working until literally the last minute she could stand up. And then, of course she requested to follow tradition and for her body to keep working further, for a week after her death, while lying-in-state to give people a chance for closure (anti-monarchists, I don’t have ears for you right now).

Like the gap I leave everytime I’m driving away from my mum’s house, looking back to wave at her and seeing her standing at the gate, all frail and strong at the same time. Smiling back through the tear film in her eyes. I want to turn around so bad. So that my heart can feel whole again.

That pain.

But the more you love… the more decidedly you eventually learn to let go.

Without blaming the other person for your feelings.

And instead, you learn to take your time to plough through the leftover energy and through the loud silence. I try and find ways I can become stronger within myself. I make use of other coping mechanisms, like taking on challenges seemingly impossible.

And lots of cake.

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Martina D.

Building my small one-person business UP. Publishing & writing books for both print and audio. 📍London