Last week, I promised you something a little bit different. Here it is. Inspired by some true stories I have read about people dealing with people they have loved and lost – for whatever reason – I decided to show you what this old man thinks about the whole matter. I hope, at the very least, it will make for a good conversation.
How strange that when you give your heart to another person, it doesn’t hurt at all. It is only when they give it back that it feels as though it’s being torn from your breast. And, as with any act of giving back, it cannot be done without leaving some mark behind, the pressure of a fingernail, perhaps; a tiny slit, bound to scar.
But there is something else, always something else. In an act as unforgivable as it is inevitable, a tiny figurine, a perfect replica, slides into the fresh crack in your heart.
A masterwork of artisan beauty, it sits inside you, flawless, the cracks in the clay disguised by paint and varnish. Memories . . . in matters such as this, the thing atop your shoulders has little influence; it is the heart that remembers. And this is how your heart remembers your love: flawless.
At first, you probe the wound hundreds of times a day, as you would an ulcer, then only once or twice, and then every now and then, until the figurine is covered with a dusting of years and lies in a corner, a forgotten ornament. When you catch sight of it, you quickly turn away, because you know that if you blow on it only gently, underneath it will be as bright and beautiful as it ever was.
Most people will one day give their heart to someone else – and, if they are lucky, will receive another in return. In a moment of tacit recognition, both parties will agree to pretend not to see the scars and what they signify. Perhaps they feel that the gift they give is damaged, or impure. Perhaps they hope to assuage some of their guilt through a feigned ignorance – after all, it can hardly be fair that a new love should carry the souvenirs of the ones who came before.
Is that why the first love is the strongest, without the guilt of the shared secret to temper it? Is that why the first scar is the most painful, the first souvenir the heaviest? And yet, the wisest of us say that peace is not found in perfection. I am not a particularly wise man, but I have learned one or two things, things which make so much sense to me that I hope that, in the telling of them, I can help those who are troubled.
I accept the scars and souvenirs my partner bears because I know that, without them, she wouldn’t be the person I know.
If I ask, she will open her heart for me. I will be able to see the figurines resting inside, but I must not compare myself to them, because they are perfect, and frozen, and I am alive.
Above all else, I must remember not to begrudge her if, from time to time, she visits her souvenirs – they are, after all, hers to visit as she wishes.
As a parting thought, I urge you: do not hide your scars. Remember that no matter what past sadnesses lie inside your partner’s heart, that piece of them belongs to you now, and you are responsible for keeping it safe.
Do not be threatened by painted miniatures.
A souvenir, no matter how beautiful, is only a souvenir.