To the ones who said, “It gets better”

Sympathy Card Curly Girl Designs

When I lost her–my mother, my gypsy, my patron saint of love and kindness–the echoes first began.

“It gets better. Just wait. It’ll get better.”

I hated every person who offered me those words. For their guilty eyes and soft voices. For their pity. For filling my head with false promises of tranquility, impossible visions of peace.

How could it possibly get better?

Every day that passes I’m 24 hours more removed from the last time she held me in her arms. The last time she stroked my hair. The last time she spoke three infinitely more soothing words.

“I love you.”

Every day that passes my vision of her fades just slightly more. Her image fuzzes around the edges. Pixelates. Unnoticed from one day to the next. But combined, she’s becoming a blur.

I claw through my memories trying to find one of her laugh. One of her hum. One of her silly smiles. I feel victorious when a forgotten detail surfaces—in photograph or video or voicemail or dream.

But I know I have no ownership over those stolen moments. I know I’ll lose those details too.

Give it another day.

With each changing season, the things she’s given me age. Shirts, shoes, sunglasses, jewelry, watches, purses and more. I won’t leave the house without one of those priceless gifts. At least one thing. Maybe the Tiffany earrings she and my sister went in on together for my college graduation. Or the Tom’s sunglasses she gave me our last Christmas together.

Our last Christmas.

But those objects, those items, those physical incarnations of her love and generosity—they are not immune to the mighty arms of time either. Jewelry is lost. Shoes wear down. Sunglasses break. Every day I have less of her to weave into my wardrobe. To wear her love like a blanket on my skin.

How could it possibly get better?

My dreams—the ones where she’s still alive—they’re treasures. I experience her just as she was. I wake up surrounded in the warmth of her. And long to drift back to the place where she lives in my subconscious.

But every day that passes, I have them less and less.

It can’t ever get better.

Now as I wind through my second full year without her, I know the words I’ve hated for so long are true.

It’s getting better.

I wouldn’t call it peace, but time has given me something I didn’t know it could. As I try to balance holding on and letting go and moving forward while desperately clinging to the past, as I fight to forget nothing and even as I continuously fail, time still offers a comfort.

A new echo caressing my ears. Of “This is okay.” Of “This is what is.”

Of acceptance.

She’s not here. I’ll never not miss her. I’ll never not wish I had more time. I’ll never not want even one more day by her side. I’ll never stop trying to remember more pieces of her. I’ll never stop mourning them as they fade too far away into the darkness of my fragile, fallible, feeble human mind.

But still—even still—it’s better.

And I’m grateful to everyone who told me so.

And even more grateful that they were right.  

__

Image Source: CurlyGirlDesign.com, maker of the best greeting cards in the whole beautiful world.

Writers’ Block Challenge #4

Task: Write a story about the images on a roll of film. Use 12, 24, or 36 paragraphs.

Flawed Memories

He hadn’t crossed her mind for months when she decided it was time to clean out the closet in her adolescent bedroom. She dug through the poufy frocks and sequined skirts of old prom dresses, remnants  of a coin collection, graduation caps and gowns and tassels. She dug deeper and uncovered pictures that had decorated her college dorm. Art supplies long forgotten. An old broken iPod – lime green, clunky and heavy. She sorted through high school sports paraphernalia. Sweat shirts from swim team. Running shoes from track.

Twenty-two years of memories kept quiet and tucked away. Out-of-sight and nearly forgotten. But not quite.

Buried underneath a box of clothes that most certainly didn’t fit anymore, she found it. A shoebox. Wrapped in pink and purple tissue paper. And small cut out hearts. A memory box. Containing all the keepsakes a sixteen-year-old holds onto the first time she falls in love.

She ran her finger along the outside edge over the crinkled, stiff paper hearts and considered just throwing the whole thing away. Why rustle up all those old feelings, right? Surely there’s nothing in there she’d actually want.

But something sentimental got the better of her and she lifted off the lid.

Inside, she found delicately packed corsages. Dried flowers and ribbons and Velcro bands. Faded ticket stubs to movies and concerts and amusement parks. Cards and tags from every birthday or Valentine’s gift. Empty jewelry boxes. Letters  they wrote each other. Printed lyrics to their favorite songs.

She felt her heart tug as she flipped through the memories. Let them flash in her mind. Homecoming dances and football games. Break ups and make ups and a mountain of firsts. How earnestly she had loved him.

At the bottom of the box was a single roll of film. Undeveloped. She lifted it out and pulled at the fragment of film strip peaking out of the plastic black case, exposing the negatives. Holding it up to the light, she saw a sequence of happiness. A casual afternoon together with nothing better to do than laugh and cuddle and waste a roll of film.

She shook her head. That’s not what it was like, loving him. You’d look through this box and think we were perfect for each other – that we were meant to be. That we were happy. But we were no such thing. Sure there were moments like the one captured on that film. But there were other moments to. The terrible kind. The scream-so-loud-your-lungs-hurt kind. The weep-until-you-get-a-migraine kind. There was cheating and callousness and recklessness and selfishness and emptiness.

Where is the box that holds those memories? Where’s that roll of film?

We look back and we see the flowers and the letters and the smiles and we wonder, were we wrong to let it all go?

She put the film back in the box alongside the other happy mementos before replacing the lid. If I must remember us, I insist on that memory being true to what we were. With that, she added the memory box to the ‘throw away’ pile and moved on to sorting through the Art Supply bin. 

everything to me

I used to believe that one person could be my world, my everything. That my whole existence could be perfectly wrapped around someone else. I used to believe this was an acceptable way of thinking. Healthy. Normal. Noble, even.

It was only when I moved away and started anew and went down a path completely alone that I realized how wrong I was.

I had spent far, far, far too long with someone, believing he was everything. When he or I or both of us faltered and our relationship winced and buckled, we held on. Clinging desperately to the lackluster, so afraid to lose it all. Afraid to be left with nothing.

How unfair it is to allow someone else, anyone else to be everything. When in fact, we are our own everything. We exist completely on our own – our beings fully separated from anyone else. With our own thoughts and feelings and breaths and dreams. Our own ambitions and hopes and desires.

I’m glad I chose to move away. Went down this unknown path alone. I’m glad I got far enough away from you to realize you were not my everything. And we were not anything at all.

Just two scared kids, clinging to the lackluster. No idea how to let go.