I remember the last time we really held hands. And it wasn’t that long ago. A memory, washed deeply in a past I can’t quite wrap my head around.
I remember the last time we kissed, even made love, and it’s not as long ago as I wish it would now. It is just a memory, washed deeply in the hurt of a friendship scorned.
I remember the last time we celebrated our anniversary together, a dinner at Killens Steakhouse. It was a great meal, a great waiter, and yet it feels now as empty as the love she shared for me.
I remember, more brutally, the conversations over the fall. Conversations that followed another year of marriage celebrated in July, that suggested a commitment that wasn’t there. I remember the gifts of a disc golf bag, support of attending a World Series game with a best friend, support of going out every Sunday afternoon when before it was treated as selfish. I remember the distance that grew that fall, and the secrecy that took greater place when silence and secrecy shouldn’t have been acceptable.
I remember, I remember, I remember. Yes I remember it all.
As July 27 is the anniversary of my marriage to Elana, it now stands as one of the most painful days in my life so far. Maybe not next years July 27. But this years will stand as one of the most painful. Because each memory I have of her is helping me to remember our life together as what it is and not what I wanted it to be. Indeed, it was a bad marriage to someone who could not get past her issues and who could not see herself for the person she deserved to be. Even then, every memory of her around this anniversary remind me of how my failings contributed to a marriage that could have been better and still had the potential to age well.
Regardless, there is now way to stop remembering. If I could not remember and compartmentalize, I would be no better than the stupid behaviors of last fall from others. The remembering brings pain, and the remembering is pain.
And it sucks. And it hurts, very deeply.
From where I stand, memory brings the ultimate hurt that my character fears so greatly: separation, disconnection, distance. I fear separation from those I care a lot about, since I find great fulfillment knowing that I am connected to others (not needed, just connected). But to have my own wife decide that she wants no part of me or our family life, and speaks those words that she feels nothing around me. That sucks. And I remember it.
But even as I write this, as much as I’d love to completely forget that this anniversary even exists, I am not one that runs from the pain. Though I don’t run from it, it does not mean I am not lonely or grieving. In fact, I feel lonely and hurt. Lonely in particular, because no one can remember for me. no one can feel it for me. No one can shield me from it. No one can look back at those events, that last kiss, that last touch, that last time we laid next to each other, that laughter together, that moment sharing a child together…no one can feel that for me. I must feel it.
Memory is painful because we remember that which we love and appreciate. Memory, even painful, still does something. It clarifies what was, or at least it gains a different perspective. And yet, no matter what sense or clarity it may give, memories never answer the question why.
All this being said, I remember the 4.5 years of marriage, I remember the hurt of this last fall, and I remember this day not for the smiles it held on July 27 of 2013, but for the pain in the memories it holds in 2018.
Tonight I hurt, and I wish it weren’t so.