I ended up going through my entire box of sentimental letters and cards. I’ve found all of the ones from Mart and was able to re-read, let go, and throw away most of them. I have a handful of cards left that were really special to me, so I want to take the time to acknowledge them and preserve these memories before I physically throw away the cards.

I have a card from before we started dating. It brings a smile to my face to think about how innocent it started out. Who knew that we’d be together soon after and last almost a decade later.

First of all I want to say happy birthday, you’re almost a grown-up now! Sighs…..flies by so fast. I just hope you enjoy the day of your birth because it’s a special day to celebrate. It’s the day you came to us and made us smile :)

P.S. Since this is a holidays card, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year ^_^

Your friend,

Mart

I remember how it felt to be infatuated. Those beginning stage butterflies. Being friends but wishing we were more than friends.

On some late nights, I always reflect on my life and thought about you. I kept asking questions like what’s so special about Kimmy? What is it about this girl that I care so much about. And the answer came to me. I care about you because I want to be there for you. In times of trouble and happiness I want you beside me. You bring a smile to my face and for that I’m grateful. You’re special because you’re strong. Things don’t always go the way you want them to but you always keep your head high. You have the strength and courage I will never have.

In the past I was always told to never take things for granted and that’s what I’m doing now. I want you to know how much you mean to me because I might never have the chance again. This might sound dramatic but you have no idea how much of a difference you’ve made in my life. I only hope that when I wake up to see another day, I’ll have you to kiss, to hug, to feel, and to care for.

This letter seemed kinda long but it’s not nearly enough to describe how special you are to me. You’ll always have a place in my heart.

This card really touched me because it was both really sweet and really bittersweet. I’m so touched that he spent late nights thinking about why he liked me and what he found special about me. I’m honored to have been thought of so highly by someone else. It’s a bit bittersweet for various reasons…a little bit of his low self-esteem is peeking through (“you have the strength and courage I will never have”). Over the years, it was a pretty vicious cycle of me being taken granted for and him telling me he would make it right. Looking back, I know he tried his best, but I also know now that it wasn’t enough. It was just in his personality to be like that and it grew into something toxic for the both of us. I knew it deep down, but I loved him enough to overlook it and accept it for many years, even if it hurt me.

One of the cards has a moon and some stars on it. Before we had gotten together, I had written a poem about Mart, referring to him as my moon. Eventually he started referring to me as his star, his moon star. So, the symbol of a moon and star together was very cute and meaningful to us. He drew a little doodle on the inside of the card. I honestly have no memory of it (it must have been from so many years ago) so when I opened up this particular card, it made me smile.

A card from 06/12/12 for my college graduation from UCI:

One chapter ends, another begins. This is another chapter in our lives and I could not be more happy than to spend it with the person I love the most, you! My Kimmypie, my moon sweetheart and morning star! I’m so lucky to have spent high school and college with you, and even though it wasn’t easy, we persevered through our love for one another. Thank you for having me in your life :P Haha, I always say that because you have no idea how lucky I am to find you. You mean so much to me baby and no matter what tough challenges await us, I will always love you with all my heart.

Here’s to many more mojitos, sangrias and cocktails with you Kimmy! Congrats again!!! Whoo!!!

Over time he would start making hand-made cards for me instead of buying cards. It’s funny to see the progression from impersonal holiday cards to hand-picked fancy cards to hand-made cards. The creativity and time put into the hand-made cards was so impressive. He basically developed scrap-booking skills haha. After all these years, I still really appreciate all of them. God, to think of him sitting in his room late at night, cutting little fancy stationary pieces of paper, arranging them, and super-gluing them. It brings tears to my eyes. We did a lot of things for each other, to show our love and affection.

I’m so grateful we got to experience the journey from adolescence to adulthood, high school to post-college together.

A card from 02/14/14, our 7 year anniversary:

Happy anniversary baby! Seven years of wonderful and unforgettable memories. Thank you for being a part of my life and filling the void of my otherwise lonely and sad existence. Dramatic right? :P But seriously, you have brought me so much happiness that I can’t express it enough how lucky and thankful I am.

But this year was a difficult one, and we’ve had to face a lot of challenges. We had to deal with being physically separated for the longest time since we’ve been together and struggle through fights that threatened our relationship. Most of all, I’m disappointed in myself for the lack of effort I put into our relationship and I know I can do better. I want to make this next year a great one and provide you with the happiness and love you deserve. Now that we’re out of college, our relationship is entering a new but scary and exciting phase but I know our love is strong enough to survive through whatever tough challenges we’ll face next. Here’s to a new year baby, I love you with all my heart, mind and body, my Kimmy boo.

I remember that year where he went to the Philippines with his family for an entire month. It was the first time we had ever been away from each other for that long. I literally saw him every week, sometimes every day. I remember at the time, the thought of not seeing him brought such extreme fear in me. I completely broke down and cried the day he dropped by my house to say good bye before his vacation to the Philippines. That month away from each other brought such turmoil to our lives. It tested us physically and mentally and emotionally, and it was also the first time my sexual orientation (I’m bi) almost tore us apart.

That card was another bittersweet reminder. I’m so happy and honored to have brought much joy into his life, but it’s also bittersweet to get another small glimpse of his low self-esteem. It wasn’t healthy for me to be the only source of joy in his life. It was another bittersweet reminder of how often over the years I’d be taken for granted, or he would lack the effort in our relationship. It wasn’t necessarily empty promises year after year, but it was definitely a vicious cycle and in the end, unfulfilled words.

When I was still a teenager and I had gone through a break-up with my first boyfriend, I remember how angry I was at his past declarations of love, including all the cards and letters. They felt so fake, they felt like lies.

Now as an adult, this break-up with Mart was only my second break-up ever (since Mart is the second person I had ever been with; from age 16 to 26), things are so different. I look back and find the past declarations of love so very real and very full of meaning. I know he absolutely meant them at the time, and I know exactly how much love we had for each other. I can’t lie and say I’m not still heart-broken, but I can definitely say I’m grateful it all happened and I can tearfully & wholeheartedly say I had never loved anyone like that before. Although I might regret how long I turned a blind eye to certain things and let them drag on, I don’t regret that our relationship happened and the many years of wonderful memories we created together.