I’ve been choking on my heart today. I can feel it resting where an Adam’s apple would, making swallowing a rather heady endeavor. Literally, I’m pushing liquids to the top of my throat, then wooshing them down – I stopped trying to get my heart back down to my lungs hours ago. It’s all in the memories.
Curiously, we seem to spend more time on Memorial Day weekend focusing on making new memories rather than pondering old ones. Answering the inevitable What are you doing this long weekend? question elicited camping or Sasquatch – certainly not remembering.
But then I heard my father’s friend was sick. Not in the sniffles way. In the cusp-of-life way. He’s the sort of friend who changed the way my father lived and gave him an opportunity to be more than a decently educated, depression-era kid from the south side of Chicago. Seeing someone he’s known for fifty years – someone vibrantly alive, social, and sweet – rapidly decline into merely a shell of who they were must be leaving my dad in the unfortunate place of remembering someone who seems relatively close, yet so far gone. If it were me, I couldn’t help but wonder if I wouldn’t yearn for what was.
Which made me think about the people I’ve let go of, or who have let go of me – or those that are still in my life but how everything shifts. How real that yearning can feel.
We’re tricky creatures, alternately wanting to hold on and stop any semblance of change, and looking forward to a hopefully better time. People leave us – it’s inevitable. And while it rips a layer off our hearts and churns wheels in our mind, they don’t leave us alone: we have their memory.
Yet memory is such a soft solace for what we face without them.
In relationships and friendships, when someone “leaves” we often tell ourselves that they were taking care of themselves – they are doing what is best for them. And this thinking is revered. Maybe that’s all we can do, no matter how someone leaves us. They are taking care of themselves.
For as “now” focused as I have worked to be this year, these thoughts of leaving forever left me deep in remembrance for the people I love – how all I want is for them to be happy, healthy and well, in whatever fashion that means to them, even when it means without me.
What am I doing this weekend? Remembering.