My chances of meeting Cas were so unlikely it worries me to think about it. We met on an online game that hosts 100 million monthly players across the world... scary, right? Yet, on the 23rd of December, we played and laughed and argued about the definition of “Christmas Eve” (I was right, it’s not just the evening), and even though we lost every single game we played from then on, we kept on laughing.
Daily conversations became gentle routine that we both settled into willingly and it struck me how undeniably safe Cas felt. He was always there for me, smiling and humouring my awful dad jokes. I became aware that if Cas were a flower, he’d be the tallest, warmest Dutch sunflower you’d ever see.
Time between us began to pass comfortably, and soon we were eager to meet. I was absolutely bricking it, yet so excited too. I worried about incredibly irrational stuff, like his possible distaste for English water and maybe all this time he actually runs like an ostrich? For the record, I’d still like him, ostrich and all. School had been hard for both of us, and we’d done immense studying as exam season was about to begin.
3 days before he was due to arrive, Cas informed me through tears that his lung had collapsed and he wouldn’t be able to fly. The disappointment we felt from that was immense. It honestly felt like we had been cheated out of something that would’ve made everything okay. We healed slowly, but quickly booked for the next school break and focused on his health. It was another 50 day wait and that stung.
Eventually we were at the airport - him smiling and me sweating! It was awkward at first, but soon enough we relaxed into each other, and it was so nice to finally be able to hold and smell him after everything we had shared through our screens. Being around each other was surreal; I spent so much time just smiling and staring.
Before long, our time was up and saying goodbye was the hardest thing I had done for a while. The words “I miss you” held an entirely new level of depth. I missed our time together, but I also missed contact and breakfast in bed, morning coffee cups and our adventures. I missed the immense feeling of safety and home Cas carried on his back. Sometimes, in the hardest moments, words aren’t enough. But words are all we have.
Fast forward months and we’ve booked again, my flight to the Netherlands saved onto our calendars and a lung-collapsing-prevention surgery planned after our exams and before our holiday together. The surgery went well, but two weeks before I was due to arrive, an artery under Cas’ lung had leaked 1.5L of blood. It was terrifying. His Mum told me the ambulance was on the way and not to worry too much... Finally, in the evening, I received a morphine induced Cas photo from his mama and I could finally breathe again (thankfully so could he!). He was weak and very often in pain, but he was okay. By the time I arrived, he was healthy enough to explore his country with me and give me the best 2 weeks I could’ve imagined.
Our next flights are booked and we’re counting down the days. I miss him with all of the 687.3 miles between us, and in all of the everyday moments. Even smelly socks. It would be amazing to be able to send a touch to each other in our busiest moments, when we’re so caught up with school and work.
“If I had to spend another 3500 hours playing a video game just to find her again I would in a heartbeat. And I wouldn’t consider a second of that time wasted.”