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Love Letter to Memories

Last Beach Trip

I can still see, so flawlessly, the way he tilted his head to the side and smiled so big – his tongue would always lick his bottom lip just ever so lightly, almost as if he never knew he did it – as his bright blue eyes sparkled even in the faintest light. There are a few instances of this exact expression that I can pinpoint with perfect precision. Once, when he asked me to kiss him for the first time and I said yes, and the last time – perhaps forever – when he said, “Oh, little butt, I will love you forever”, crying through a smile with tear-stained, flushed cheeks. This, when he said it, the absolute moment of realization that the fear to lose me forever was coming true. His last attempt to burn into my soul the bittersweet truth of deep love he could not shake, even after he saw me walk timidly down the steps, out of his life forever.

That smile, for whatever reason, has stuck with me all these years, and when I think about him, this is what I see. I choose, most of the time, to simply let the memories wash through me, thank them for all the experience of him has taught me, and then let them pass – much as I do with any thought from all my yesterdays. There are still, however, some days when, if he comes to mind, I think about it more than I admit, and I wonder why. Why, when I cannot remember other things that I dream to simply recall – the way my mother’s voice sounds, or the feeling of having my parents married and happy under the same roof – consider that I have a hard time with these treasured memories and then realize, instead, that I can draw within the context of my mind the image of a man I knew two years… I concede sometimes this ability is both a curse and a maddening gift.

Whatever the reason it needn’t matter now if only because I choose, now, to remember.

I choose because I can say with assurance, perhaps the likes of which I never knew post-Timothy until now, that I am moving on. Finally.

I remember his face, so concentrated that night on the couch. He fidgeted with his fingers, pulling metal chips from his calloused hands, and avoided eye contact with me as he asked, quietly, “Can I… can I kiss you?” As if this young man, more handsome than he knew, would have trouble from any eager young woman at the mention of a kiss? He could have pushed me against a wall and planted a kiss without mention beforehand and I would have buckled just the same. I remember pulling away, just slightly, enough to see his face – that moment, right there… That was the first time I saw that cocked-head smile. That sparkle in his eyes. That look that sealed our relationship from that moment, onward, turning two separate beings into one; a whirlwind dance of young passion, intellect, argumentative conversation, and some cosmic connection unknown to both hearts before that moment.

Birthday Surprise

He occupied every thought I had, day and night. I was drunk on his every move. Concentrating heavily on anything I could consume that would draw me closer to him: Books, music, science, religion… We duked it out over Darwin’s theories and philosophy over coffee in a diner. I challenged him towards the nature of God late at night while we stared at each other, wide-eyed and sleepless, as we laid in bed. We bled deeply into the flesh of each other, unsure where I began and he. . . He allowed me my first experience of love, and each day we spent together the magic began anew.

Until it didn’t. Until that night. Until I was twirling my fingers in his chest hair at 2am like I always did, only this time, he was breathing heavier than normal. Only, this time, I could tell something had been bothering him all day, casting a shadow over my otherwise cheerful, chatty mate.

I had adored that smile he reserved only for me. He strummed his guitar and we sang Danny’s Song or You are my Sunshine and Croquet Alley… He tilted that head and gave me that smile, mid-verse, and I knew without any doubt that I was his girl. His little butt… Silly Sap. His Christina.

Until I wasn’t.

The night I watched him cry through his hands, begging for another chance. For forgiveness. For a second longer so he could say he was sorry. . . Again. That night I saw him smile through the torment and the confusion, if only to show me he had fight left in him, more to give. He smiled as tears fell and he told me he would love me – no matter what.

Of all the things that happened from the first day to the last, and of all the things I could have remembered, it had to be that smile. The one that made me fall in love with my sparky, and the smile that reminded me of all I was losing that night I walked away.

I feel safe now. Sometimes. Going back there. To all of it.

I spent a great deal of time and energy in the previous few months writing about this time of my life. Pouring over details. Painting a broad-strokes portrait of a love I once had. Illustrating moments I tasted love and held it in my hands then saw it all come crashing to pieces.

If I had to give a reason why I write about it, it would be the same reason I allow myself the freedom to be there again, in my mind, now and then. I feel as though it is a story worth telling, but more than that, I feel it was a love worth honoring – even when it hurts – because I learned a great deal. Each time I write, and each time I remember, I give it rest a bit more.

Some people choose to take the past and box it up. Store it in a toaster box in on a shelf in a garage. Some people wash away their memories with alcohol and excuses. Some people work very hard and believe they overcome their past so that it ceases to matter in the present time. . .

Whatever works because to each their own. For me what feels the truest is to write it down. To chase these words with a few minutes of reflection, cherishing the smile a man once gave to me, and thanking him with my spirit… I let him go a little more, and I heal a little deeper, each time I do this.

I cannot see myself ever saying I let it go completely. Or that I never think about Tim anymore. That just never feels right to me even to forecast it. It just does not fit who I am. But I do envision a day to come when it no longer feels bittersweet when I remember falling in love with him that night, and it no longer hurts so badly when I see his face on the porch the rainy evening he told me he will always love me as I left him. I do believe that I will be able to purely, wholly honor him, and who we were together, without it being a “thing” for me anymore.

I believe there will come a day I remember that smile and feel nothing but happiness for him, wherever he is, and send him love and well-wishes for the life he lives so many years after he loved a woman named Christina. That day is not today, because there are still feelings unresolved here – but I write to help with that. I remember him to help with that. It works for me, and I am thankful I have this ability.

I think, now, I am choosing to let him go because I finally have the right love for me. The right forever love that compromises and forgives. That cherishes and protects. That supports and encourages. That holds true and is steadfast in complicated times. I have the right love for me, and do I even have to illustrate how I know this or why I am sure?

Because of that smile. Because of love once so pure that I felt it in my bones. The kind that you know, even as you live within it, one day it will be the love that taught you right from wrong. The kind that sinks to the soul and stays there forever, reminding you time and again each time another love does not touch it in its depth that you must keep on searching… Because love unlike the first is not love worth keeping. Love that does not surpass that is not what will satisfy a heart that went this far…

I know because he loves me better. Because John smiles at me and I remember Tim, sometimes, and thank him. He taught me how to recognize something worth keeping. He taught me, when he asked me if he could kiss me that first time, that love should feel this amazing – even when it is brand new. He taught me, that night he let me go, that real love is worth the fight.

I did not know it, all those years ago, that Tim was worth the fight. Mostly because I was scared, confused, and broken. It has since been years too late because he is another woman’s husband, and I have since been another man’s wife… But I vowed to myself when I learned of his marriage that I would not settle again until I knew a love that was better than ours. Because that would be how I honor him – by learning from each day I was his…

I learned to know right from wrong – real life connection from pure imagination. Compatibility versus convenience. Lust from meaningful chemistry.

I am letting him go. Finally. One memory at a time.

Because great love waits for me now. He patiently holds my hand, sometimes unknowingly while I recall the smile from the first, and he accepts me as I heal. He listens. He helps me cope when I find myself still burdened by these fading years.

If, when the time comes that I have done all the healing that is right for me, and I can choose to reserve one memory of Tim and our days together, it would be this smile that I treasure still. It would be the moments he chose to share his life with me, teaching me all I would ever need to know about love, as I stood at the start of who I was meant to be.

I remember it now, right now, and I smile back. Once his, now merely a memory in his mind…

I hope, if he ever remembers me, he sees me smiling back, the way I did then. The way I still do now. If he musters a smile back at the mere memory of me, if he allows that, then I consider us both blessed for having loved at all. I hope he learned from me the same that I learned, too, but that he knows more than I can say that he was worth every moment of happiness and pain. He was worth it, and he still is… I am growing now, ever growing, and ever loving. . . This time, my gaze is set on a new horizon, but I am so grateful for every dusk of yesterday. To love again, purely, as I once did. Only, this time, wiser. Deeper. Forever.

Smile
Forever…
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Douleur vaincue dans le cœur de l’écrivain.

Letters

On the winds off to the West sent by courier on 42-cent postage travel a mere two-thousand words. Tapping fingers on the crumb-coated counter-top, she waits, sure only that it had to be said.
Could seven years prove anything more than what has since been left undone?

With each stroke of the keys, one night, she poured out certain truths only the counterpart in the story will ever understand. The value in each syllable, forethought and cause for lost sleep; her heart escaped through every single word, much as a willow stretches its branches, begging to feel the cool of the grass at its roots.

Bent branches, mostly, but firm grasp held tight into the dirt – leaves plucked thin by raging winds but never more bare than in this moment – she waits here, whispering to answer all that is yet unknown, nearly at a tremble now, wondering if the soul of this endeavor will even be received. When life grants no alternative but what could be most difficult, where else may one go but straight to the heart of it?

Pure beauty in the pain, or at best under-appreciated, were these lost years; others listened to the vague cries of a woman barely clinging to the hope of truly requited love. Alas, could they really torment her so? To grant that life is better served forgetting the past than to forgive it – some may argue it is no wonder seven years have lapsed with her not feeling anything more than regret.

His face, in dreams, a drastic opposite to the reality of life lived apart from him; lovers came, lovers vanished… And yet his eyes the only glint of love in dreams silently cherished under cloak of night. She choked it down, no more than this, the thought of love, for none quite could compare…

No. Not to youth, radiance, and the tender whims of romance felt as a warm flush in the face of a woman feeling it for the first time. Lest, then, she was a newly planted tree staring up into the embrace of the warm sun, whereas the years, they faulted the tree for not reaching the azure of the expansive sky, up the stars where they beckoned her love to go.

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She could not have grown that high, at least not in the arms of unworthy love. Feigned then, at best when, on most days, her aim was to find a strong wind, uproot, and sail across open land until something more familiar again attained. Back to her roots, wanted, but more than that, forgiven for ever having left.

Back to the plot now, she remembers the letter. Every last word read to her heart so many times now it brings a surreal comfort; her thoughts peaceful in the notion that the placement of each sentence dances in harmony with the intention to open Pandora ’s Box. Not for fate’s sake, but for the hands of time to rewind enough to make the memories count for more than sheer loss.

Across space and time he dwells, un-expectant surely for how could he foresee, the shadow of stored and forsaken yesterdays will soon present the opportunity to change. Change for what, one imagines, but perhaps simply to let go what has long been held in vain: The beautiful surrender of forgiveness, and an absolute regard for what was once the hardest moment in his life. How to grow from this apart from the one whom shared it? Impossible.

So, there wrote a proverbial pen to paper… the quill to parchment… the labored chisel to stone in the bellowing halls of a cathedral. She challenged the convention of others, and perhaps some best intentions, for the well-wishers and nay-sayers alike have not even the slightest comprehension just how important this work will be.

Her work that of honest reverie to love’s lingering embrace, for every moment since those days marked with the towering sentinel of things undone. How must one cherish the fortune of all things ahead when eagerly grasping what has faded into dust? Yet again, an impossible feat, so alas to the hearts that would otherwise forbid these candid words; woe to those who would oppose such a triumphant gesture of resolution, at the expense of their tendency to forget the past!

Seal

I am unconventional now, truly and finally. Far too long, speaking directly from the heart, have I shielded myself the ability to let go of all the reasons not to do this.

One life, that is all I am given. One splendid, honest, momentarily painful, and humbled life I have been given. One body, one mind, and one heart… To waste another fleeting second on burying what I need would be worse than the potential for hurt this endeavor may cause me. The pain – brushed free from cobwebs and unearthed from a vault – it will surely be brief in comparison to a life lived nevermore haunted by the ghost of things undone.

I challenged myself to let go of convention, albeit at the cost of total vulnerability and the possibility that it will hurt, to endeavor beyond what I settled for too long. I tear myself open, unsure about the looming structure of this process but hoping for closure, at last, if only to whisper into the heart of someone I once loved whom loved me, and tell us both that life is worth more than mere regret.

Some if not many whom may ever read this may fret and offer, aloud or just within, that life is not meant to gaze at backwards. To you who believe this, perhaps it benefits the intent behind your concern to know that I agree. Wholeheartedly. Which is precisely my motivation… I am just, suppose it to add a glint of guilt on my part where none should be placed, seven years behind.

Yet, my dear well-wishers and nay-sayers, imagine love. Purely young though we were, innocent to the furrowed-brows of society, we loved greatly. Now, venture into the realm of tragedy for a young woman and her soon-shattered lover. Add to this an unmentionable, tumultuous twist of fate wherein every single bit of reality is broken, instantly. No, not the wayward eyes of a seductive man, merely, but the cruel demons of another, supposedly most cherished of all in the life of a girl, and piece together the trappings, even just on the outskirts, of why seven years

Quill

have done nothing but scratch the surface of true healing.

A bended branch you see now, swaying by a fibrous bit of bark, ready to detach at the whims of the wind. Place beneath it the cool of the grass, weeping willow ever-reaching, willing to break apart at the slight chance to feel the dirt beneath her.

I have lived this way for many years, unsure and unsteady, but for the truth that, someday, I would be brave enough to finally seek and attain what was rightfully mine all those years ago… Absolute and total peace of mind in the beautiful embrace of release. In the surrender to destiny, as I could have done but was not strong enough to do when I last saw his face.

I imagine he is sleeping now, yet, if not, perhaps strumming the chords at the mention of long-vanished days. His eyes sparkle as they once did, maybe now just slightly less affecting, because he holds onto the pain of the belief that he is not worthy of love. Not like he once believed…

Would I not offer my hand, extend my fingers outstretched through the years we endured apart from healing and give him, and myself, what we craved but never sought? To help him find his music again, to help him find his heart in the midst of all he still hopes he can forget.

Lest we not forget, but instead, forgive. Die to the regret, but instead embrace the lives we have lived apart all these years and truly, finally, find our meaning beyond the pain of all we cannot change.

I wrote. And now it flies.

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