I remember Chicago, and singing for you for the first time. I remember the first time you held my hand. The first time you rested against me. The first time I kissed you. I remember those apartments, perpetually messy. I remember dungeons, dragons, demons, wizards, and dark towers. Meeting your friends for the first time. I remember ghouls, skeletons, and Rakanishu. Cain who wanted us to stay awhile and listen, which we never did. Demon cows and the loot they dropped.
I remember my stepdaughter. I remember how shy she was, and how loving. I remember Nemo Status, and laughing to silly noises. I remember the eyebrow thing she used to do, and how she would laugh at head shots. She showed me what it could be like to be a father. I remember being ‘Jerse,’ and giving shoulder rides, and doing science experiments. I remember the first time she pointed out Jupiter to me, seeing the space station with her, and our conversations about life.
I remember the blistering speed with which our relationship deepened. I remember thinking ‘what are you doing?’ Wondering if my feelings for you were authentic. Imagining our future as we lay together at the dawn of our relationship. I remember psycho-physical pain at our partings, tremendous joy at our reunions. Comfort, and closeness, and spooning. I remember tribbles, and making love. My intense shyness and shame, and my impenetrable walls.
I remember the roller coaster ride of new emotions that I couldn’t understand, and I remember the relief I sometimes felt at knowing you’d always be there to see me through the hard parts. I remember being Jerryn, and sharing visions with you. I remember how you used to look at me, with love in your eyes. How you saw more in me than anyone ever had before, and how you fought so hard to bring it out of me.
I remember our daughter. How scared and ill prepared I was. I remember relief, at the clinic, when I accepted that I would be a father. It was the first time I ever thanked myself for procrastinating. I remember cutting the cord, and holding her tiny hand as the nurses cleaned her up. I remember knowing at that moment that we’d done the right thing. Lullaby’s and swaying her to sleep. Food and diapers and baby play. Being called a ‘good dad.’ Nobody will ever call me that again.
I remember Seattle, and how much you sacrificed for my happiness, and how much you regret it. I am sorry that your sacrifice bought so little. I remember that you tried your hardest to help me, half a world away, even though I didn’t recognize it at the time. I remember the longest road trip I’ve ever had. How cramped and uncomfortable we were! I remember the mountains, the sunsets, the dead battery, the water slides, and our relief at the end of the journey. I remember depression, worthlessness, and your dad’s house. Pea shooters and sunflowers at night. I remember that you tried so hard to pick me up, but I was too heavy. I wouldn’t put down my baggage.
I remember our son. How you sat on the ball and squeezed me when you needed to. I remember sitting in the water, and the awe I felt for you as you calmly breathed him into this world. I remember bats, robot cowboys, and giant eyeballs. Laughing at silly faces, silly sounds, silly deeds. Being rough, squeeze hugs, and killing zombies. I remember the nova, and the bard’s song. I felt my happiness as a point of light on dark water.
I remember the giant house, and the hive of activity it always was. I remember growing accustomed to it, and then growing to love it. We filled it with things others didn’t need, and it turned out we didn’t need them either. I remember the War Room, and spending far too much time in there. I remember the Rose, the Mana Potion, Charon the Ferryman, the Face Hugger, the Lady, the Clover, and others. I remember bonfires, and stargazing, philosophy, and the alien worlds we visited for brief, frightening periods.
I remember the end. I gave you away to others without hope or prospect of reward, and while I should have been more selfish over you and told you how I really felt, you wouldn’t have been true to yourself if I had. I remember the moment I knew we could no longer continue, when I realized I had finally given you away for the last time. I remember feeling replaced, no longer necessary or desired, forgotten. You found someone you belong with – a soul mate. I could never be that person, but I had been too stubborn to admit it.
I remember guilt, sorrow, regret, and helium. I remember trying to understand what I’d done, a task which continues without progress to this day. I remember that night with you on Facebook. I remember IOP, and the note you wrote me before I went (which I will forever keep), and the glimmer of hope that I might be a part of your lives again one day – a hope that was all but destroyed last Thursday in front of the bench.
I remember my heart, shuttered by my past, broken by my actions, and shattered by those shards that I broke off of yours. I feel my shattered heart, its pain radiating out from my chest and down my left arm, and I don’t know if it’ll ever heal, or even if I want it to.