Monday, August 22, 2011

Closure or just acceptance

We often speak of closure as if it is a physical act. ‘I’ve closed that door and it will never be opened again.’ But I’ve discovered over the years closure is really just acceptance. I accept this situation for what it is and will be moving on from it, without it or because of it. But I can’t close the door. Maybe I’m going about this closure this all wrong. I know I compartmentalize things in my mind. I have a big box for my family, the to do lists for running our household, getting the kids to appointments, school and ballet on time and with all the appropriate gear needed for each activity. I have a box for my marriage where I store arguments and memories and revisit each day to gather the important things and dump the not so important things in the trash bin. There is a box for my life and inside that box are lots of little boxes. Memories move from one little box to another, mingle, ideas from long ago surface every so often and friends from the past often come floating to a current box resurfacing in my life. I have a big compartment in there that holds the shit I just don’t know what to do with. This is my closure box, but it’s never really closed and I never have closure in the sense that I’ve wiped my hands clean, the memories are just memories and I’ve walked away losing the key to that box. It is in the box that I keep the things I don’t understand or don’t know what to do with. Friends lost and arguments that end friendships for no reason are here. I accept it, but that’s it. My dad’s cancer lives here. My fears are hidden in this box too. This fears that haunt my future and those fears that keep me awake at night thinking of my children and all I may do wrong….or wondering if I am doing right.

I had to open my acceptance box two weeks ago. It was entitled The Closure Room up to that point and it had to be renamed simply Acceptance after another tragedy hit my life and I didn’t know where to file the information and the lack of ability to seek help with closure.
Before I get into that, let me start with twenty years ago. Twenty years ago I started college. I was an artsy theatre major that hung out in the green room and giggled at the top of cat walks while running a show below. One of my first trips into our Green Room I was awed by a voice. I walked in and three guys were playing guitar and harmonizing together. Having recently discovered Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls, I was almost star struck. I stayed for a bit, introduced myself and got to know these three guys. One in particular stood out to me. He had a voice like Micheal Stipe - which us girls swooned over twenty years ago. He had shoulder length spiral curled hair – which girls would die for! And he was nice. He wasn’t a god. He wasn’t Michael Stipe, but I had an instant crush on the guy I just knew I could never have.
That first day he and his friend invited me over to his friend’s house to jump on a trampoline and listen to the two of them play. Years later we would talk about that first day and how I almost blew it. Growing up in a small town with nothing much to do, I immediately said, ‘NO!’ when I thought they had asked me if I was doing anything later. What they had really asked was if I wanted to do anything (with them!) later. Twenty years later, I can still see myself on that trampoline in Seaford, Virginia with a long black skirt with tie dyed edging and knots I had tied to keep it from dragging on the ground. I had taken off my China doll shoes to jump, and I remember being so nervous.

From there our friendship flourished. The three of us would get together most afternoons and play, sing and just hang out. I quickly fell in love. I was in awe every time Chris and I were together. I remember our first kiss and how his hands were shaking because, as he told me later, he’d felt so much love for me from so early on that it terrified him. Our love was beautiful, our lives were ahead of us and we were just happy to have one another. We spent hours walking around William and Mary College and finding the best acoustics in town in the old halls of the school. I remember an evening he told me of a girl that had been murdered where we stood. He told this elaborate story that ended when we got to a bronze statue of a girl on a bench. He told me that was her memorial, and then he grabbed me and held me as I shivered and told me he had made it all up, but it was so cute to see my emotions and I felt for this girl in the story. He was a story teller. He told stories in the songs he wrote. He wrote of pain, emotions, life, and laughter. He wrote of memories and anger of understanding and of acceptance. Our relationship only lasted about two years. I wanted to be married and have a family. He did not.

Over the years we kept in touch and saw each other when we could. My heart always skipped a few beat in his presence. The last time I saw him before I started dating the man who I would later marry; we sat on a beach together playing our guitars. It had been ten years since we first met. I was still in awe in his presence and we both wondered if we could be together again. I lived seventeen hundred miles away and he still didn’t want to be married. We wrote a lot, talked a lot over the phone and accepted that we would always love one another but wouldn’t be with one another.

Forward to today; I have this nagging feeling every morning when I wake. Throughout my day, I’ve feel like I’ve misplaced something, forgotten to do something or can’t quite remember something I need to know. My mind has been looking for closure. Chris is gone. He committed suicide three months ago. I found out two weeks ago. He left behind a wife (yes, he did marry, but only about three years ago) just days before their wedding anniversary, he left behind his music, and he left so many questions. I’ve had dreams about him lately – since I found out, and the romantic human side of me wonders if he knows I’m here thinking of him. The practical side of me wonders why he didn’t come to me three months ago. Why didn’t he call if he needed a friend? I look at the moon and stars each night, the mountains each morning and I wonder what was so horrible in his haunted soul to make him want to leave. Each day I’m reminded of him in some way. I can’t imagine not being here in October when Amy and Emily release their new album. I think of all the great movies and books he’s missing. All the music he never got to write or never got to record.

I can’t have closure on Chris’ death. I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around suicide, but I am being to accept it. It is what it is, and that’s all I have. Acceptance. I accept that he isn’t here and I even accept now that is was his choice, but I don’t think I’ll ever have closure.

The first night my husband and I went out I picked up is ID. His name is Jeffrey. When I saw Christopher as his middle name, I knew that we were just meant to be. I know it’s silly, but as I told him that night, the name Christopher has always been with me, from my first boyfriend in sixth grade to Christopher in college and even the one I let get away when I was in my twenties. With Jeff, I was able to say a new name when speaking to my love, but I knew I’d always have a Christopher in my life. Thankfully, my husband has that name and we were able to pass it to our son. There will be times when I just want to call up Chris on the phone – he’s still in my address book – and I’ll cry instead. There will be times I will be sad and can’t explain with any sound reason to my family why, but he’ll be on my mind. I don’t think I will ever understand, but I do accept. And I know if he could speak to my pain, he’d tell me, ‘Just look inside your heart and I’ll be there.’