The Jungle of Lost Time
In memory of Sandra.
He does not remember having cried in that way ever in his life. As real, raw and desperate as he did that morning when he learned of her death; or to be more precise, when he realized once and for all that they will never meet again.
It started when she visited him that night in his dreams. She re-enacted the many Christmas’ parties they spend together. As was the usual back then, their families used the get together on their grandfather house. Children, adults and teenagers all together in that strange jungle we call family. They were sitting in the living room seeing before their eyes images and scenes from those Christmas’ from the past. She sat on the couch beside him and there in the living room, they started re-living their best Christmas’ parties, bringing their memories to life. Moments later, their grandfather came and sat with them. He fixed his gaze on them and smiled for a few seconds, then, excusing himself he joined the Christmas’ parties that continued happening in front of them. Uncles, cousins and guests all together once more just for the sake of being together. The true happiness that comes from wasting time.
Once their grandfather joined the parade of images from the past, happy families and relatives once again perpetuating the Christmas ritual, what were they doing meanwhile?. They devoted their presence to enjoy each other’s company once again, with no compromises and with no social conventions of any kind, consummating once more, without knowing it, the bliss of sharing their memories, their past, and their lost time; in the way as it should have happened but did not actually happen, in light of the fact that, irremediable, we live not as we want to live but as life presents itself to us day after day. Past wounds connecting to the present through tangled skeins that determine our daily lives.
Many visits have taken place after the first one, some more painful than others, but at the end the pain is not important, as this is their only opportunity to be together again, even if it is only for an instant.
The first visit happened about a year after her death. He was at his office and she was sitting in a corner looking at him and smiling. He noticed not only that despite the passage of time, she looked very well, but also she looked glowingly happy.
Ever since the day when they were in the living room, she has visited him sporadically two or three times a month, not more than once a week, and never in the mornings.
But something was different this time. While they were together in the living room, she spoke for the first time. She whispered, “please remember me when I’m gone from here, remember me but not with tears”.
They talked all through the night, until they told each other everything that was never said while she was alive, how dearly they had loved each other, the admiration they felt for each other, but above all, how much they enjoyed each other’s presence and company. They talked about the joy of existing in this very moment and none other; but of course, at that time when she was alive they did not know it. They lived with the certainty that life is a slow wave carrying the passage of time with no changes or traps, where true happiness is now and forever, where there is no place for tragedy.
He does not remember all of their conversation as it was full of emotions, but he remembers a few moments that will remain forever in his memory. He remembers that she told him the positive thing about dying young is that he will always remember her in that way, youthful, smiling and joyous.
At that very moment she made him promise that he shall always remember her in that way. –“Remember that I was always real, that I always tried … remember me and smile, for its better to forget that to remember me and cry-”.
So that morning when he woke up beginning to untangle his wounded skeins, he cried as he had never cried in his life, full of immense happiness and pain. He will never see her again, but he will always remember her as youthful, smiling and joyous as she was.
With fragments of “Treasure” by Robert Smith.
Montreal, Summer 2010.