When I walked into the bathroom she was huddled in the corner, knees to chest, a beautiful mess. Her right hand gripped a stained razor, while crimson pain spilled from her left wrist, palm up, shamefully showing the world what she’d done.

In a heartbeat I was there, wrapping my hand around the blade, cold steel parting the skin of my palm but I didn’t feel it as I wrenched it away from her, tossing it across the room. Then I was gathering her into my arms, cradling her soft head to my chest, feeling the heaving of her chest and the shaking of her body, her tears wetting my shirt.

Gently, I probed her. “What happened?”

Not physically, that much was clear, but emotionally.

“I wasn’t strong enough. I’m not strong enough! I can’t do this” she said, tearfully.

Her big brown eyes were on mine, searching for answers, vulnerability shining through like cold fire. She had never looked more beautiful to me.

Pushing the waterfall of brown curls off her face, I tucked it behind one ear and kissed her now bare forehead.

I smiled wistfully, understanding how she felt all too well. “That’s the beauty of this,” I said, “you don’t have to be strong enough. Let me be your strength when you’re weak, and you be my strength when I’m weak, and together we’ll be invincible.”

She brightened briefly, the sun in her eyes parting the storm clouds for a moment, before the clouds crashed back together, her eyebrows knitting together with gorgeous worry. “But what if we’re both weak at the same time, and we can’t be strong?”

“Then, darling, we can each be weak for ourselves but strong for each other. I’ll use your strength and you’ll lean on mine. We’ll always pick each other up because our broken edges fit together like shattered pottery, and the sum of our parts is bigger than our whole.” I cradled her ever closer as I said this, feeling her love come in through the gash in my hand, and my own love pouring into her through the lines on her wrist.

She smiled and I melted, pressing my lips to her candy mouth as she tried to speak, making her giggle musically as usual.

I’ve never felt anything like this, and I wish I could relive this moment forever on a loop. Because two days later I found her hanging from the ceiling fan, and the pieces of my brokenness shattered into shards too small to ever fit together with anyone else’s ever again.