5: Nothing Lasts Forever
Didn’t sleep last night. Couldn’t. Wanted to. Even took about forty quick and short breaths to get myself lightheaded to help me drift away.
Just laid there atop unwashed sheets, thinking about Selena. She was alive. She was dead. Alive then dead. Alive then dead.
Memories swept me away last night, and I thought back to our time together.
Oh, I love her. I can’t stop saying it. Can’t stop thinking it. I never stopped, not even after everything ended and I didn’t see her for two years.
She gave me life and ruined it all at the same time. And now with her gone, there’s not much point in going on, no other reason than to perhaps leave an account of one man’s life so that whoever—if anybody—survives what’s coming, they can at least have some kind of record of what things used to be like. Even if it was written by some love-struck loser who is so depressed right now that he can hardly see the keyboard beyond the tears.
Going down memory lane and telling you about Selena is killing me, you know. These are memories that I learned to suppress because they were getting too painful to recall. Every time I did, I wanted to hide under a blanket and pretend it was raining just so I could get away and retreat into myself. Maybe fall asleep and awake in a world that isn’t dead anymore.
That’s thing the about reality: try as we might, some things just are and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about them. What makes it worse is that not only are you depressed, trapped and have lost all hope, you also have the sickly realization that none of it can be changed.
Forget what all those self-help gurus have told you. Sure, we can change our mind about some things, change our attitude and behavior and “start a new lifestyle.” But you know what? That’s all surface stuff. There is one thing that we can’t change and that is our heart, the true and deep who we are, the part of us that simply is and no change of circumstance can alter it. And when who you are is tied so intricately with outward situations that are irreparable, hopelessness takes on a whole new meaning and all you have left to do is either go through the motions and wait to die or just end it yourself and check out.
I’ve tried the former; failed on the latter. I don’t know why I keep hanging on. I suppose it’s because of Selena. Though she’s dead and even though it was only her that could make life worth living again, Selena had one quality that I never possessed but, I guess, am learning to have now: dying hope.
“It’s the most important thing in the world, Marty,” she once told me. “You lose that, you lose everything.”
Selena was willing to press on in all things even when it appeared there was no hope.
One night, after cuddling on my couch, holding each other, she told me that her parents were killed four years earlier in a massive car wreck. She was an only child, just turned eighteen. Her folks didn’t have life insurance and had a ton of debt. She had lost everything and had to sell the house, the car and everything inside except for a few pairs of clothes just to pay off most of it. Her relatives lived either in the States or in other provinces and the distance over the years created a huge gap between them and her family. Some came for the funeral, the brothers, sisters and the one living grandparent. The rest didn’t. Most flew home the next day. A couple stayed on an extra day or two in a hotel.
Selena had been alone.
Once the house and assets had been liquidated, she was homeless. She had just graduated so didn’t have a job. Her plans to go to university were squashed. For a month, she said, she lived on the street, bouncing around from shelter to shelter, if they had room. On the nights they didn’t, she spent them beneath the Hellmouth Bridge, out of the elements, trying to sleep with hands over her ears to shut out the noise from the cars driving overhead.
At that point, she said, the only thing that kept her going was something her mom once told her: “It will pass. Everything does and nothing lasts forever.”
Finally she managed to get a job serving coffee to the late night crowd at a coffee shop downtown that no longer exists. Slow but sure she saved up enough for a damage deposit and first month’s rent on an apartment. It was the same apartment I dropped her off at the night we first kissed.
Anytime throughout our relationship I talked about how bad things were, she always silenced me and reminded me that nothing lasts forever.