This time of year last year, if somebody told me how my 2019 is going to end, I wouldn’t have believed them. I can still remember the closing of my year last year, it was cheerful and hopeful as compared to the sombre and ambiguous one this year. I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen next. It’s like being at sea at night and a storm is brewing and you’re hanging onto the side of the boat for dear life so you won’t go overboard. The sea inside of me is usually peaceful and calm, showered with sunshine and some seagulls flying overhead for good measure. But sometimes, when I sit to ponder and try to really think about what’s going to happen next, the sun disappears behind the clouds and the storm that has been lulled to sleep all this time is quickly being awakened until the waves are crashing over the rocks and all that is hidden in the waters is swiftly being thrown to the shore as wreckage.
My heart is at peace, for now, because I have learned to compartmentalise my memory of him. I have put him in a tiny wooden box, locked it, and put it on the farthest part of the top-most shelf of my mind to be forgotten. In the years to come, it will gather dust, and it will be moved further and further down the back of the shelf until I forget it even existed. Compartmentalising can be a double-edged sword, for even though it helps in forgetting, you still run the risk of opening it all up like Pandora’s box once something reminds you of it and it stirs you. But that’s okay because if I don’t do this, then my heart that is at peace will be just another part of the wreckage after the sea storm; it will be found scattered across the shore the next day in unrecognisable pieces.
It amazes me though, when I find that small parts of him are sometimes able to slip out of the wooden box and project themselves in my mind when I’m asleep because he knows I’m not in control during those times. Sometimes when I fall asleep in the middle of watching movies, my stubbornness is so apparent that my mind refuses to go to sleep because it wants to finish the movie but my body is tired and says otherwise, so in between that tug of war between my mind and body, I end up lucid dreaming. And I was mildly surprised to find that I am dreaming about a memory I’ve had of him with the same conversation and the same place. It was like the replaying of a memory and I quickly snapped awake. One time I woke up quickly after I heard him laugh at a piece of clothing that I have in a dream and as I was getting dressed that morning, when I opened my drawer, that piece of clothing was on the top most pile, waiting to be worn.
I find comfort in the thought that this time of year next year might be very different from now. Although I have learned that nothing is exactly set in stone, I know with every fibre of my being that it will be different and I am looking forward to it because it feels like for the first time in my life I am going to do something for myself this time and the journey will be scary and full of twists and turns and struggles, but in the end I know it will be worth it and it is time. This time of year next year, the little wooden box would probably be forgotten and laid to rest with the other boxes that are not meant to be opened ever again, except perhaps when I reach the dusk of my life and I’m suffering from arthritis and all that my body ever allows me to do is to sit on a rocking chair on a veranda, looking at the street in front of my house, seemingly watching the cars that pass by but not really seeing anything because I have regressed into that deep part of my mind full of locked boxes. And as I unlock them one by one, I’ll come upon that tiny wooden box once again and open it and breathe in the scent and close my eyes and go back to that time where I was made to feel safe and happy. And then he will be gone and it will be all right with me.