The movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is on Netflix right now. Who of us with a broken heart has not wished for the ability to erase all memory of everything to do with the person who is no longer part of our lives? Wouldn’t that be just the best thing ever? To simply not be broken. Not a bad goal, I think.
All day today, reminders of his birthday tomorrow kept popping up on my phone. I thought I’d deleted them all from calendars and contacts, but somehow I missed one that through the magic of Apple managed to send reminders not less than six times on three different devices. So, yeah, that sucked.
I gave him his present when he was here last week. It was a framed picture of Dog as a puppy. A highly appropriate gift, I thought, and it felt right to acknowledge his special day. I put a picture of the two of us behind the puppy picture. His daughter had taken the picture of us. It was a sunny day and we looked so happy together. I’m not sure why I did that, hid the picture there, but it also felt right. He may never, ever come across the picture of us. He may even discard the framed photo of our sweet boy at some point, after some more time passes and he no longer feels the sentiment that I know we both still feel. Time has a way of taking care of these things. He told me that.
We broke up right before my birthday, which falls on Valentine’s Day. He’d always done a great job with my birthday. The first one we spent together, he wrapped my gift half in Happy Birthday gift paper and half in Happy Valentine’s Day paper. He got me two cards – one birthday, one Valentine’s Day – both purple, both the same size, and glued them together so they were one and unfolded like an accordian. I still have them. Every birthday after, I got two-dozen roses and showered with attention. He always made it a big deal.
This first birthday and Valentine’s Day that we spent apart after our break up, he called me in the morning to wish me happy birthday, and he sent me a card – just a birthday card this time – that I received later that day. I cried over both the call and the card.
I put the ‘just’ birthday card and all the other birthday and Valentine’s Day cards and all the holiday cards from our time together in a giant Ziploc bag and packed them away at the bottom of a box. I didn’t feel like I could throw them away but I didn’t want to continue to stumble across them. Every time I did was a set back. I’d catch my breath and then give my head a little shake, as though, like an Etch-A-Sketch, I could erase the memory and the pain.
You know, in that movie the two characters end up finding each other again on Montauk on a cold day in February – on Valentine’s Day as a matter of fact. They find each other even after they’ve erased all memory of each other, of their time together. I think it’s beautiful that even after all the pain, these flawed human beings still recognize their heart’s mirror in one another. I suppose you need to get past that awfulness and the resentment and anger before you can see each other clearly again.
As for me, and my flawed heart, sometimes I catch myself thinking that he and I are still not really done, you know? That it’s not done; it’s just not now. None among us knows what the future may hold. But then I talk myself out of that because it’s not healthy to think that way. No matter what the future brings, for now it’s important to move on, I think, to let go, to allow each other the opportunity to love again, to take the lesson and be better.
Then almost imperceptibly, even to myself, I give my head a little shake.