Memories don’t count for anything. When it all comes down to it, memories are just tools used to torment yourself when everything is gone, when everything is finished. I don’t mean done, I mean gone. Memories play inside your head…when all is lost… and all the wealth, all the power, all love in the world cannot bring it back.
“Didn’t you say that love is the strongest thing in the world? Did you not tell me that no matter what happened, you would always be there for me? That no sickness could take you away from my side.” I stare at his name. “Well, where are you now? You promised me,” I take a shaky breath. “You promised me. So why did you go where I cannot follow?”
As the warm breeze passes over me, flashbacks sear across my mind. Laughter that pulled us together after a fight. Hugs when we just needed someone to lean on. Tears shared over simple things and not. Anger at each other’s shortcomings and forgiveness for that anger. Kisses in the summer rain that felt just as contradictory as the setting.
Holding each other as we weep as we learn of my barren womb. The realization that adoption is just out of reach for us. The day after, when he took my hand, pulled me to my feet, and told me that I was enough for him. That I will always be enough for him. I realized then that he was enough for me too. When all of those memories finally fade, I am left with nothingness, emptiness, self-pity, torment, and rage.
“Rage at who? You? Me? The situation? The fact that you left me alone in this empty world? Does it matter? Because the only one who can fix it, can calm my nerves, can turn this nothingness back into life is you…and you are gone.” I reach out my hand and feel the cold stone beneath it. “And you are not coming back. You are never coming back.”
I keep my hand there, letting the cold seep into my hand up into my wrist and arm, across my shoulder, and down into my chest. I can’t help but wonder is this how you feel right now, if you are even in the now? Cold? Miserable like me? Or are you warm? At peace? Having fun and moving on from the memory of me?
“Good for you then.” I finally let go of the slab and clench my fingernails into the palm of my hand, not really feeling anything. “Better to forget than to remember. To remember what has been lost for good. Because if you are in the now, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to join you. So forget me. Then maybe when I’m all over, when I’m no longer in the now, I’ll finally be able to forget you.”
I place the blood red rose on the dirt at the foot of my husband’s grave. I linger there, wondering if I’ll ever come back here were I know that he isn’t. But were else am I supposed to go? I look at the dull blue sky, and walk away with the memories.
2017 Photograph: A Canyon in the Sand, by Olivia Arnold