They told me not to look. Experts. Friends. Everyone literally agreed. Looking would only bring pain. The image would be there forever, burned indelibly on my mind . There would be regret. Massive regret. And what was there to gain? Did I really want permanent damage in an attempt to satisfy a curiosity that is sure to be insatiable? I knew what I would see, didn’t I? I have seen the pictures. It was sure to be the same. Those same images with that same hashtag. But hope is so hard to kill. It won’t die no matter how often it is plunged through the heart with reality. So I looked. I couldn’t not. And oh my Lord how it hurt. It hurt worse than I expected, for I am familiar with the pain. I have looked before. Many times. Daily, if I am honest. Always looking at his instagram account in this stupid, desperate attempt to find the person I thought we knew. But he’s not there. He’s never there. In his place is this person who is living a dream, a dream that has become our nightmare. A dream filled with sunrises and ocean waves but none of us. We aren’t there. And he calls it good. Anger is so much easier. Anger doesn’t allow for hope. Harsh words protect, providing a perverted comfort. Oh God, why did I hope? The obvious protection is to look away. Don’t think about it. Don’t hope. But I did, and it’s too late. The damage is done and the daily roll call of questions begin to file through my mind. How could he? Why won’t he? What was ever real? Then as sudden as it came, the darkness passes and the light returns. The light of my Savior, my family, my friends. I know tomorrow there will be another opportunity to look, to hope, to burn. But I won’t. Not this time. I will not let one solitary image take precedence over the world of wonder around me. Not again.