The pansies in the garden were a gift from her. I had come home one night after another long tiring day at work to find a blister-pack of 12 icicle pansies sitting on my front deck. Stuck to the black plastic tray was a small yellow post-it note, “Enjoy. I know these are your favourites. S.” That evening, in the pale orange light of the setting sun, I had sat on the cool damp ground and lovingly placed each small plant in the little bed beneath my living room window. I don’t know how long it took me to plant and water the little flowers, but it was far longer than it needed to be. I’m not even sure if it was necessary to water them or if my falling tears had been sufficient on their own.
Every morning, when I look out the window to check the day’s weather, I see them growing in the moist black soil and I think of her. I barely see her now as we have fallen into the habit of using brief email messages to communicate. But never does a day pass in which she doesn’t permeate my thoughts. We had been much closer than any couple we had known, “soul-mates” it had been said. You don’t spend almost half your life with someone and not grow close.
I think back to a time several years ago, back to when our lives were filled with hopes and dreams. We had talked of the future, of growing old together, of the home we would build, and of the endless adventures we would live. I remember the dreams starting to happen as I think back to the little house we had bought. I think of the traditions we had started, such as the planting of pansies in the gardens every year. They were one of the few rare annuals we grew. I think of the laughter and the smiles we had shared as we transformed that house into a magical home. I remember the love and the affection as we had grown closer and closer and as our love matured and deepened. I’m not sure it would have been possible for anyone to have been happier. We were not rich, but we had more than enough to live a life filled with many wonderful adventures, good times, and special moments.
I can’t remember as much about the black times that followed. In a way, I’m glad my memories are so limited because they don’t reflect a time worth remembering. I had always lived with the despair, regret, and confusion within me. I was usually able to keep it properly contained in the place I had made to bury it away. Somehow, the walls that contained my demons had crumbled with age and those feelings got harder and more difficult to contain and deny. It was as if there was a different person struggling to get out, and a weaker person desperately struggling to contain the one trying to escape. Those years were miserable and were able to destroy even the strongest relationship. I can still clearly remember the evening we sat on the back porch, enjoying a summer sunset, and her telling me that it was over. I have shed enough tears since that day that I could give a cup of them to every star in the sky.
She helped me pack my things and find my new place. She made sure I'd have somewhere to go, albeit alone. It’s not my home, for a home is filled with love and happiness, with hopes and dreams. Its a modest little place, but the silence can be deafening and there is only a weedy lawn with no real gardens. The pansies were the first flowers I have planted in an attempt to bring some beauty back into my life. I think she knew I needed them, but her gift is a mixed blessing. How can I find contentment when the only happiness I experience comes from a stolen and lost past?
Have you ever dreamed of suffering some tragic injury that erases your memories of the past and leaves you empty? If, perhaps, not having to constantly remember all that you have lost will bring you some kind of peace and serenity? I have heard it said that it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all, but whoever said it is a liar. I have also heard that time heals all wounds, and now, several years later, I know that it’s not true. The sadness and despair that I feel are as fresh and painful as they were two years ago.
My days blur together, each as empty and meaningless as the last, and as filled with uncaring as the next. No hopes and dreams fill my future. My life effectively ended that summer’s evening when everything that had meaning was taken from me. My love never died, but now it exists only as a ghost of what it once was. All that I have left is memories of better times and happier days. I live in a world of taunting reminders of how much I have lost. I think it’s the memories that make the present even emptier. How can one ever be satisfied with stale bread when one has tasted the finest of delicacies? I tried reading some books on “Living in the moment” and enjoying what you have. The philosophy offers promise but hasn’t worked for me. I am not alive in my present – I merely exist as a pale shadow bathed in the dim light of my memories with her.
The pansies are beautiful and filled with life. Sometimes when I see them I smile and for a few seconds, I forget everything and feel like I am in my old garden enjoying the summer’s sun. It’s not a lot, but sometimes, its enough.