As we grow older, we collect spaces. We store away moments in time and categorize them, tucking them away into the corners of our minds. These are the times where you can still smell the rain on the pavement outside or see the way his eyes crinkled in the corners when he smiled. That blissful happiness you once felt or the ache that rested in the pit of your stomach is at your fingertips at a moment’s notice. Even as we move on, these rooms stay compartmentalized and become part of us.
Jazz music crooned around us. We were sitting in some French restaurant nibbling on a baguette with some green olive tapenade and fromage fort. She had been laughing hysterically about a day from long before until her eyes welled with tears. We sat there quietly together after that, watching the people dance in the corner under soft light.
She told me she left his shirts neatly stacked inside the drawer the way he left them — just in case he came home. They were impeccably ironed and placed in neat rows inside the dresser She couldn’t bear to crease and wrinkle them in an attempt to move them elsewhere so she stacked things around them in the other drawers — photographs from their vacation in Bali, train tickets from Amsterdam, a packet of green tea, some cheap sunglasses she acquired in Mexico somewhere. She would shove these miscellaneous items into the closet, hoping they would swallow the shirts inside so she could be whole again. But they sat there in that drawer for days and then weeks and then months.
She said that she had stopped going into the room all together. There was an orchid in there somewhere that was probably dead by now and she would sleep in the guest bedroom down the hall so she didn’t have to be alone in their bed. Even the pillows and sheets reminded her of him.
She said the idea of him was so present in her mind that sometimes she became tired just thinking about him. I told her : Resilience is a beautiful thing. We as humans are able to adapt and overcome. We heal. However, sometimes we have a tendency to shove things inside drawers to hide what has not been mended.
Even after the dresser drawers are empty, the lingering smell of his shampoo will remain on the pillowcases and that song she’d play on the radio with the windows down and her feet on the dash will echo in her mind when she hears it. Over time, these loses ache less, but they will stay with her throughout her life.
It’s about how we choose to move forward and remember these moments in time that tested our ability to overcome adversity or heal from loss. Moving on is not about forgetting, but coming to terms with the pain that you’re feeling and realizing that you deserve to find happiness and surround yourself with love.