Every night for the past week, I have come home to discover no one has changed my cable box to the Sci-Fi channel.
No one is lying in my bed at an inconvenient diagonal. No one is waking me from nightmares.
However much work and commotion, however much peace and solitude, whatever I may eat or drink or whomever my entertainment, my words seem to me nothing but testimony in these days past. I have been, at one moment in a recess of my mind and in the next all corners, in thrall of a girl with button pockets on her trousers, reading a paperback in front of a brick building, waiting for me. I have been witness to my memory, in the past in present tense.
Where is it we go when we have been left behind? For it is not our true place, wherever we may walk thereafter, no matter how long we may wait to depart. We are divided, and know it for some time, abandoner as much as abandoned.
Who is it we see when we trace back the trail away? For it is we who select the snapshots to view, the memories to dwell upon, and they who may not make introductions to the agenda. If it is not our own actions, it is our own feelings that concern us, in the past as in the present.
And why did we think pain would flash, rather than simmer, memory explode before us like a film rather weave into us, as a change? At times, we are fooled; the past seems longer than it is, and change sneaks up, and the past will seem to vanish in a single moment. Likewise, when change is sudden, it is the past that creeps, and memory will come like an ambush.
As seven days unfolded, I turned to quiet walks and slow tugs of coffee, I spilled out a sentimental cascade of correspondence, I made vows of regrets and meals of melodramatic woe. As seven days came to a close, I remembered my thrall was finite, my past would, in fact, become my present tense, an embarkation played out in reverse.
And with all this, in seven days, as witness to a girl with button pockets, I could not but ask: What has been rendered unto souls by all which may come, in six months, as witness to a woman with a bible in her hands, and wine in her glass, two daughters in her house, and songs at her bedside. And love woven into her soul, as grace.
Sometimes it is a privilege to bear witness, though it may try you. And sometimes you are together, though you may be cast apart.