“And then one day, not so sudden or unexpected, everything fell apart. For months now I’ve been adrift in the hours of each passing week. Walking, talking, breathing, but not really there. The spark that gives us all our own unique existence has been stamped out in what I’ve become. There is a crushing bitterness that lingers in me. An unyielding force that has seemed to extinguish my capacity for positivity. I fight it. Oh god, do I fight it. There are even days where hope returns for a few fleeting hours, but it doesn’t last. The truth is, my life ended that day.”
It is an interesting feeling, to bare your soul to a headstone. There is something calming about it. A general sense of acceptance would probably be the best way I could describe it. No judgment or condescension. Unless you consider a random cold breeze a sign of disapproval.
“You were always good to me. Kind and understanding. Honestly, the only in law I ever felt actually liked me. You once even told the whole family that I was a keeper. Sorry to disappoint you. Looks like that is not the case.”
The grass around the marker was longer than the last time I had visited. I had left my ring there once as a sign that I would begin to move on with the memory of your kind words as a guidepost for my future self. Every time I visited that ring was laying in the dirt at the base of your headstone. Fitting, as that was often the state of my life at those times also. Again and again I cleaned it off and put it back down on the dark, shiny stone, and with it the tears I had been holding back.
“I have been asking myself if this is what I deserve. All this pain and regret that I live with.”
The grave stone responded with the standard silent treatment.
“I have always tried to be a good man. I know that I made plenty of mistakes but it feels like the weight of the consequences is not balanced with my poor decisions.”
I paused a moment and cleared my throat.
“But, maybe that’s just me.”
The location of the marker in the cemetery was about as nice as anyone could hope for when it comes to last resting places. On a bit of a hill, with plenty of large old trees around to shade visitors. Quiet and beautiful. A gentle breeze blew, rustling the leaves perched above me.
“Time heals all wounds. I guess that’s true but what if time is what makes the wound hurt so badly? The time you put into a project, a job, a family? What if your time was wasted? Years that you can never get back. Time you should have been learning and growing was instead spent fighting and clinging desperately to the hope that you are enough.”
My emotions flooded my eyes again.
“That’s the thing about time, it passes. It moves along weather you’re ready or not and gives no consideration to your feelings or situation. The more I fight the current, the harder things are.”
That’s where I was on this visit. Being consumed by life’s ruthless march. Each passing day I felt like less and less. No prospects, no independence, no financial or emotional freedom. No hope for a better tomorrow. I was beyond lost and trying to find anything that made me feel normal again. My strip mined heart yearned for someone to fill the cavity where it had been, as if it would fix all my problems. Each failed attempt hurt more than the last and I found myself too eager to give everything I had left over to someone I barely knew. I thought that these women would help me learn how to love myself, but it did the opposite. It solidified my belief that I was nothing to anyone. Not worth the vulnerability of a real conversation or the time it takes to say “good morning.” It solidified the belief that I deserved the things that had been done to me, that I deserved to be cheated on and left behind. Experience had shown me nothing but disappointment and heartbreak. Fleeting glints of hope fallowed by wave after wave of bitter indifference.
I gently ran my fingers across the grass. Something to try and put my focus on anything else. As my hand moved my brain started to calm and my racing heart slowed. The breeze blew over me and I felt grounded.
“I guess it could be worse. I could be in here. Truth is, there’s a part of me that wishes I were. Life is hard, ya know. I’m not the kinda guy who’d give it up but sometimes I feel like it’d be for the best. For everyone.”
I wiped my eyes and gave a sigh.
“I have a long way to go until I’m better. Longer than I even know. I’m sure there will be plenty more visits in the future. It helps, these talks. No matter how one sided.”
Even though it’s the obvious joke, it made me smile.
“Goodbye for now.”
The drive out of the cemetery was oddly cheerful. The sun peeked out of the clouds and wrapped me up in its warmth. Almost as if to say that things were looking up.