Last night, C. and I came home from the memorial party for Donovan, fell into bed, and wrapped ourselves around each other, seeking warmth, comfort, affection, love. I lay there, forcing myself to be in the moment for as long as I could, and focused on appreciating how absolutely perfect it was: her head resting on my shoulder, my arms wrapped around her, our legs tangled together—like we were puzzle pieces that had been snapped into place.
She eventually slept, and I did everything I could to memorize how wonderful she felt in that moment.
Memorials exist as things or events that help us remember. Monuments, sculptures, benches, trees, parties. They are how we attempt to honor those who have left us behind, how we create ways to maintain a connection with people we can no longer see, hear, or touch. Simultaneously, death reminds us that we live and are surrounded by the living and that we must remember to connect with the people around us, to not take them for granted.
But often the moments we most want to remember are the ones we are least able to capture.
The past couple of weeks has also reminded me how random and stupid life—and death—can be and as much as I want to, I can never assume that such a moment will happen again. That reminder is terrifying; it has made me face how vulnerable we all are when we allow ourselves to love our friends, our families, our boyfriends/girlfriends/partners/lovers/husbands/wives. It has made me face all the ways in which we cannot protect the ones we love. We just have to let them go and hope they come back to us safe, whole, with the smiles, laughter, hugs, and voices we adore. We have to let them go with our blessings every day, and be grateful when they think to let us know they are okay. And we have to do it like it’s the most natural thing in the world.
Most of the time, I can, and do. Right now, it’s incredibly difficult for me, and it will be until the rawness from and hyperawareness of this fades with time.
I kissed C. goodbye this afternoon and sent her off to her cousin’s, and I did it with a smile. But I would be lying if I said there was no part of me that wanted to hold her tight for hours longer, days longer, possibly just forever. It’s just not a part of me to which I wish to succumb. As we all learned from the ever-amusing Strictly Ballroom, “A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.” But acknowledging the fear is as necessary, sometimes, as acknowledging the grief that it follows.
One of the things I am realizing now that I have begun dating again is that, while my head is in much better shape than it was a year ago, my heart is still pretty badly wounded. I recently described it as being held together with nails and bubble gum and random crap off the street, and I should probably have included duct tape and string. Seriously, you could totally list my heart on Etsy, and it would probably show up on Regretsy within hours. Upcycled heart, vintage nails, found objects, bubblegum that has only been chewed by hungry underprivileged children in Detroit. A perfect accent for your office or nursery!
I thought about that for a while, yesterday, while I was trying not to doze off during the slower parts of a mock trial (for which I was a mock juror). And I realized, I can’t really offer this to anybody. Not like this. It’s all in pieces, and the gum is kinda gross, and there’s the issue of tetanus, and is the duct tape a little grimy? And what is that?
So what to do with this damn thing? Will somebody really want it, as is? If I take all this crap out of it, will it hold together on its own with a little help and a little encouragement? I kinda can’t tell anymore. I know this thing still works (I listened closely and it’s still ticking), and theoretically it’s still good. But I’ve been hurt so much and so often that I can’t really convince myself that I am going to have any other experience, and I’m running out of things to hold this heart together short of encasing the whole goddamn thing in resin. At which point, it would definitely feature on Regretsy.
Also, fuck that noise. What’s the point of having a heart at that point?
Lately, I’ve been absolutely loving Florence + The Machine’s Shake It Out, which I have been informed is about a hangover, but which I interpret more personally as a call to let go of the shitty past and start anew (also, there’s no shaking anything when I have a hangover, unless it’s the bottle of Excedrin to see how much I have left, and maybe that’s what she’s really talking about, there). That is, of course, easier said than done, but still a worthy goal. The line that strikes me hardest is, “And I am done with this graceless heart/So tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart.” I have no idea how to do that, or if I should, but it sounds ideal.
Maybe it’s time to rewatch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Good lord, I’m wordy. All that when I could have just said, I’m scared. I’m scared, vulnerable, and every step forward requires a deep breath and determination. But I am moving forward.
I’m finished with running away.