I had started packing at least two weeks before.
Packing, cleaning, removing all the garbage that had gathered over the years. So much – you have no idea. ‘They had gathered’ – I make it sound like they had all walked in of their own accord. ‘I had collected’ is more correct – I had brought them all. Invited them in and allowed them to stay.
Now it was time to send them away – out of my life. Overnight, they had lost meaning, they had lost purpose.
When the door is in sight, priorities shift. All the unnecessary stuff we had been holding on to, begin to fade. It’s only a matter of time before we step across the threshold and close the door behind us. What do we want to do, in those final minutes? Leave some memories behind? Brace ourselves for the journey ahead? Say goodbyes? Take one last look?
It kept me busy, the clearing of my space. Kept my mind off things. Things that were thronging my head, jostling for attention. Secondly, it gave me a chance to stage my disappearance – slowly, without anyone noticing. Honestly, no one was interested anyway. They did not observe that every day I was wiping myself from their view. Erasing myself right before their eyes. Or did they not care?
Every day I walked out, taking stuff with me like Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption emptying dirt out in the yard, little by little daily. Andy had all the time in the world. I had slightly lesser.
The door beckons, closing by inches. Too soon, too quick. Every minute it leaps closer. On the other side lies uncertainty.
I didn’t know what I was going to tell my friends. Yes I had a few. They didn’t know what to tell me either. We kept safely away from the elephant in the room. I spoke about other things, for their sake. Their embarrassment and sympathy would only make me more miserable.
On the Last Day…
I was ready. A handful of people knew – none of them my friends. It just happened to be their duty to know. They would much rather have remained ignorant. This was awkward for them. Seeing me made them uncomfortable. Avoiding me was easier. Their forced smiles said as much. I wonder if they expected me to make a big hue and cry of the situation. Did they even bother? Or were they relieved when it was over, quietly, just like the end of another day?
I don’t remember much of that Day. I have wiped it clean too, when I closed the door behind me. I must have walked around, bidding farewell in my mind. To things, to people. Touching the walls and the doors and the coffee machine for the last time. If I met any of my acquaintances, I must have said goodbye as usual. Some of them might have said, See you tomorrow. I must have smiled: I knew I won’t see them tomorrow. They didn’t have to know yet.
I turned my back on that part of life – with a vengeance. Pushed it out of my mind. Drowned it in my newfound independence.
I heard them utter my name. Wondering, questioning,… finally comprehending. And then my name would fade from their lips too. The final stab.
Some memories are like quicksand. They just keep pulling you back in, no matter what you do. You remain still, and you tell yourself you’re out, you’re safe, but all the while you’re right in the middle of it. If you move, you sink. But they don’t take you in completely, they just leave enough for you, just enough to make you sigh over and over again, years later.
When it is time for you to leave, and if you’re fortunate enough to get ample time to prepare, would you take the time to look around? To say goodbyes? To hand over unfinished work to someone you trust?
We are mortal. But our work can be immortal.
The question remains. Did we matter?
Did I matter?