I wrote this 3 years ago and decided it needed somewhere else to live besides my head…
It’s been one year. One Valentine’s Day away from the one you irrevocably tattooed on my soul – bringing flowers in, taking your suitcase out. There isn’t a hallmark card for this one. I’ve looked. I suppose it would look odd scattered amongst the hearts and sentiments of forever. The one lone card that says, “Sorry you’ll never, ever forget this day” – not because of love, but for the lack of it, the sheer invisibility of it. I guess it would be better banished to the sympathy section, except that I am too proud to even look there.
There is no forgetting.
First it was the poppies – those blood red reminders of abandonment in the first degree. I still carry one everyday to keep it from being so shocking when they do start showing up. Remembrance Day – remembrance of a man who could not even stay on this earth for me. In 15 years, that never feels softer. I still roll over on it like a boulder. There is no pea under this Princess’s mattress. I used to wait for a letter from my Dad after he died. I wished I could have been there to go through his things, to find something – anything – that indicated he loved me. Something that said he thought about it, hesitated in his death process when I came to mind. I wondered if someone threw it away or overlooked it. That maybe when they donated his clothes a stranger pulled a note out of one of his pockets that tenderly pointed to me as a reason to live after all. Like a message in a bottle, thrown out to sea so that someone, somewhere could acknowledge it.
And here I am, the foolish optimist, waiting now for your Valentine. An empty space waits beside my tattered poppy. Remember me. That is all I want. My foolish heart has let you go, stopped wondering, pining for you. My life is easier without you both – My Husband and my Father. I let the gift of your absence wash over me when I am not sure. Sometimes, there is no fixing it.
No, I don’t want you to fix it. The broken reminds me I am alive most of the time. We deadened in our companionship, walked past life. While things occasionally seem too loud or colors feel too bright, I am grateful for their pleas to see them. I am enticed more often by things that would have scared me. I am capable of so much more without our combined burden. I loved you because you tried to take care of me, tried to give me space to walk without the whole load all the time. But you were not the one. You could not stand the weight of it. And I could not stand to be without it. Some people, like animals are meant to be beasts of burden. Some are not.
I’ll admit the surprise still hits me sometimes when I think of it. Think of you. Truth be told, I thought you were a better person than me. I admired your morals and your logic to problems. I took a lot of stock in other’s accounts of your kindness and stability. People rarely surprise me but you did it twice in one lifetime. The surprise that you would even want to love me. And the surprise that you could unlove me just as easily. The latter left me with less kick back. It made the first surprise feel more authentic – as if I had a reason to be doubtful in the beginning. My intuition works. One day, I’m going to actually listen to that.
One day I’m going to forgive you. That is not today. Today, the best I can do is give you credit for trying to be a good man. This conflicts with the part of me that believes you tricked me knowingly with some hope that I would save you, that you would earn the moniker of a good man by accepting me in all my torn apart bits and pieces. I can see how the idea seemed absurdly logical to you back then. And I know you are desperately trying to get back to normal, to present as if you were never tainted. But you’ve always been tainted haven’t you? That’s how you found me. Some sweet sanctuary for some brief time. It must be so hard to pretend again. For that, I choose indifference for you instead of anger. Sometimes.
And I wish you knew that no one else but I could ever set you free. Funny, you have the exact same key.
Sweet, sweet Valentine. Where are you? Ruby red paper with a velvet finish, still wet from the ink of confession, of freedom. I think of all those cards you wrote me while you were already leaving. Somehow you were able to make me believe that despite the troubles, despite the distance – you loved me. Even when you didn’t any more. Maybe it’s a game, a silly trick of the brain – but I’m still waiting for that Valentine –the one that says I was worth those 5 years. My forgiveness eagerly checking the mailbox like all those years before with my Father. Your mistakes, your inflicted wounds, holding tightly to ego like a scared child. Funny how love can turn on you in the end. All those sweet nothings echoing into nothing at all. Absolutely nothing.