Ghost of Christmas past

Only of course the letting go isn’t as easy as all that.  It isn’t gradual, and it doesn’t displace the love; it’s more that it ignores it, or tries to.  It’s like you say of memory – it’s not a fixed place, it shimmies up alongside everyday life.  And memories vary in the strength of their effect.  One day I’ll remember happily, fondly; the next with a desperate fierceness of wanting and missing.  Memories can console like a woollen scarf wrapped around your neck (the one I so carefully folded to make it small enough for my coat pocket when I was with you once), or the warmth of a fire as you stretch your hands towards its flames; on the other hand, they can leave you gasping for breath, or scorched by the savage, visceral aftershocks which come with feeling that you no longer have what you are remembering you had.  I can imagine it still being the same even say twenty years from now.  As it was for T, so it is for me.  The path to that coastal cliff-top is as unpredictable as the weather.  As changeable.

December’s been full. For a week or two, it seemed that every day was a celebration of something.  In previous years I have disliked being so busy, being pinballed from one function to the next, because each took me away from the possibility of you, but this year I have tried to embrace them all.  And mostly I’ve succeeded.  Of course you are still threaded through my days, a part of the stitching that holds me together, that makes me me, but occasionally now I can forget – playing a more competitive type of tennis than usual and afterwards going for Christmas drinks with those friends  – and then, yes, no longer clock-watching, perhaps I am at last living free of sorrow.  Temporarily at least.  I am a part of this place now, increasingly enmeshed in its day-to-day life, as you have always been in yours.  Though unlike you I would not feel I was straying from where I belong, were I to leave.  Because in-the-zone, head-emptying moments of playing or drinking aside, I’m afraid my heart is still telling me that I belong where you are.  It stubbornly refuses to listen to my head.  How do you rein in a heart as fierce and as wild and as ungovernable as that?

On Christmas Eve I thought of previous Christmas Eves, of our talking into the Day itself, and so feeling that we had shared part of it together; of how we used to imagine endlessly and in full a parallel world Christmas with its own particular schedule, its own special gifts.  And at the height of that longing, that heart-sickness, a spectral text, which made me jump, and then respond, instinctively, without thinking.  Just feeling, my heart thudding.

I have so much time to ponder the meaning of things, to imagine what is and isn’t the case.  I do feel lost without you.  Few if any fresh ideas are coming to me, as they always seemed to when you were there, and that’s a worry.  I know I have to find a way through this on my own.  But I still wish I didn’t.  I don’t expect that to change anytime soon, and I’m sorry, but nor should you.

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