You lose a lot of things in a divorce. Some of these things are tangible, such as a home, money, friends, or time with your kids.
But lately, I’ve been thinking about one of the intangible things you lose: your memories.
You see, distant memories change somewhat to reflect your current situation. Things that were once sweet and precious become sour, or, at the very least, meaningless.
It’s Hard to Say Goodbye to the Memories
I have fourteen years’ worth of memories with my ex. They come and go at the oddest of times, like birds passing by my office window. Just now, I was remembering a train trip I took through Thailand back in 2012. My ex and I had wanted to go for some time, and we were finally there.
The train was old and rickety and reminded me of something from an Indiana Jones movie. We had a little “sleeper” cabin, which was really just folded down seats with some curtains for privacy. The train was leaky. It rained hard all night, and the water dripped right down on your head and made it hard to sleep.
The memories are still there. I can’t get rid of them.
True, I hardly think about them anymore – but they show up unannounced sometimes, like a bad houseguest. Then I am forced to sift through them. Remember how the train stopped along a polluted, industrial stretch of the city, and there were fruit stands selling those tiny bananas? Remember that red-robed monk and the stray dog at the train station? I do.
Remember how we picked “Jesus Joy of Man” by Bach as the song to be piped through the speakers when we walked down the aisle?
The wedding was outdoors, in New Jersey, and it was hot as hell.
Remember how we took the train to New York City afterward, and I bought you a Canada Dry Ginger Ale from the hotel vending machine?
It was the first one you’d ever had – and you loved it.
So many memories.
The time when we had to put our beagle to sleep. She was thirteen, and seriously ill. She lay by the front door doing nothing. The vet told us he’d put her down if it were his dog, so that’s what we did.
When the injection turned her into a shell of herself, we both cried. We took a day trip to the coast and we talked and we cried some more.
I remember when your Dad died. A few years later, my Dad died. Lots and lots of tears. We went through so much together. Now it’s all meaningless.
That’s the rub. I think the worst thing about divorce is the loss of those shared memories. That narrative.
You have a secret little world with your spouse, and when it ends it really ends. My ex is out there now writing a new narrative with her new spouse, and I’m writing one with my girlfriend.
But the narrative that she and I shared is done – and even the memories are tainted. It’s a loss of life; a loss of valuable years.
It’s hard to say goodbye to all those memories.