This Is What Happens When I Remember You


I am trying to keep you alive.

I am trying to keep you alive by remembering you in instants and flashbacks; in your cursive penmanship that are tattered across notebooks and through photographs that live on my bedroom walls. Sometimes these memories come to me in the middle of the night, and I have to stubbornly fight the tears that shock my body into waves of missing you.

Remembering you always comes in waves. At first, it’s just the outline of your dark hair and soft, bright eyes. And then I remember the way your voice sounds when you wake up, and how you would whisper beautiful words in my ears when I try to leave the bed. I remember the way your body felt sleeping next to mine, and how you would grin when you knew I was awake. I remember the way my skin felt when it met yours, and how I never wanted to leave the world we created under twisted covers and rumpled sheets.

I remember how I fell through the surface of want was deep in the pools of need when we spent our first night together. I remember the good days spent being lost in the city, and evenings in your apartment. I remember learning about you through photo albums from your father, and from stories your brother told me while we sat waiting in the hospital. I remember you until I become a pile of disarrayed and haphazard memories, because I remember failing, too. I remember that the most.

I remember telling you I loved you when you brokenly came to me on a cold Thursday night. Your eyes were swollen, and I saw the marks on your bruised knuckles. I remember promising you I’d try to fix the madness you felt in your bones and cure the darkness that traveled through your veins. I remember feeding you words that would protest the unlikelihood of losing you to your mind. There is always glory in the attempt, you once said to me. But attempting to keep you alive through these memories feels nothing like glory.

I remember you through sharp exhales and closed fists. I clasp them so tightly that my knuckles turn white and my nails dig into my palms. I don’t notice the marks until my roommate points them out to me the next morning. But she doesn’t say anything else because there is an unspoken promise of not mentioning you. She doesn’t want to unspool the memories and turn them into words. She doesn’t know how to address death with grace. None of us do.

I remember you because I am scared of forgetting. I have already forgotten life before I met you, and I am scared that this will be the same. I am scared that I won’t remember the way you smelt or the way you would talk about your dreams of creating beauty with bricks and stones. I am scared that my memory won’t serve you well, because you deserve to be remembered. You deserve stories that illustrate the sum of your victories, and not the sum of your mistakes. You deserve someone saying that the memory of you is their greatest achievement. You deserve to be alive in every way possible, even when you aren’t.

I hope you are reading my love from the skylines above, and that you know we are all coping in our own ways. I hope you know that missing you comes as naturally as every intake of air, and that I would trade in the world for one more afternoon with you. I hope you know that I am sincerely sorry for everything that happened between us. But most of all, I hope you know that I loved you then, and that I still love you now.

All I wish is that you could be here to listen to me say it.

featured image – Lachlan Donald