40 | Letting Go and Old Memories
Monday has never felt so much better, neither has a whole week of school.
After having my closure with Veronica and saying my goodbyes last Friday, I had gone home directly - okay, I might have made a quick stop at the cafe but didn’t have the courage to enter just yet - and I had forced myself to not overthink about whatever had ensued earlier in the evening and allowed myself a peaceful night’s sleep.
When I came in, mom had a worried look over her face that only rested in relief when she saw me back. I hadn’t even realized that it was half past ten when I got home. “I was just meeting up with Veronica at Gracy’s.” I had smiled and told her.
“Ronnie?” She had asked, forehead furrowed in confusion. “Didn’t she.....?” She had not completed the sentence but I knew her line of questioning.
Instead, I had shook my head and smiled softly. “Yeah. Veronica and I had a talk. It’s okay, I’m fine, Mom.” A look of understanding had passed on her face when I had pressed on calling my former best friend by her full name and she had nodded. “Goodnight, Ma.” I had whispered, hugging her softly and kissing her hair before making my way up to my room.
And then I had slept like a baby until a new morning was there outside my window, waiting for me.
Veronica didn’t come to school on Monday and for a moment, I was genuinely worried. That is, until I heard Amelia and Denise talk about Veronica’s parents being divorced in the washroom. There had been a moment of guilt, for overwhelming the girl with the goodbye I had initiated, but that was only for a fleeting moment. I knew it had to be done and the sooner it was done, the better. I can offer my sympathies to Veronica but I don’t think me stalling the end of our friendship and the closure I desperately needed would have done her or me any good. If anything, she would be drowning in further guilt because of going behind my back.
So in my opinion, I had done the right thing by letting her know that even if I was hurt, I wasn’t mad her her anymore, that I didn’t hate her. And maybe just knowing the fact that I didn’t hate her after whatever happened would provide her a little strength to guide her through this divorce thing. Hopefully, she knew that I’ll still be her shoulder to lean on whenever she needed. Even if we weren’t friends anymore, I’d still be there for her if she ever needed me, not because I forgave her but because what I had with her once.
That was also the only moment that I allowed myself to feel a sense of longing for her, in the same cubical of the washroom. It was the natural, painful yet acceptance kind of longing - like the one you have when you have to give away that one toy you’ve had all your life, your favorite toy, no matter how bad condition it was in - you know deep inside that that toy will always have a special place in your heart, even if you gave it away.
And after that, I had let my feelings fall back into place and left the cubicle with Amelia and Denise’s mouth hanging open on the fact that I had heard.
The next few days, Sean and Veronica were attached to hip, and I might have intentionally heard on one of their conversations that let me know that her Dad was leaving this Friday, that is, today. I had genuinely been concerned and wanted to approach her myself, to talk to her but I hadn’t. Maybe because I felt that the goodbye we shared had marked an imaginary line between us that we both couldn’t cross. But I had offered her a small smile whenever I had seen her in the hallway, letting her know that I was there.
I had even sent her a text when I was at my locker and she was at hers, asking the usual ‘Are you okay?’ and she had looked up, offering me a pained smile and nodded. I knew she wasn’t and she knew that I knew too, for she had rushed away from the scene before I could approach her any further, not that I was going too. I didn’t think it was my place anymore.
But I had gone up to Sean’s locker after lunch today, and he was there with her as were many other students, lingering in the hallway, waiting for me to create a scene. But instead, I had smiled widely, a genuine one at that and asked, “Can you meet me at the park on Sunday? I wanna talk.”
Sean had given me a skeptical look, wrapping his arms around Veronica’s waist and pulling her closer. “Whatever you want to say, say it here.”
“It’s okay, Sean.” Veronica had interrupted before me. “Go, talk things out. I’m sure there are many things that need to be cleared and out of the way.”
Sean had hesitantly agreed and I had realized that she hadn’t told him about our meeting. When I looked at her for confirmation, she had discreetly nodded, telling me that she really hadn’t.
I had waited for the pain to come, for when Sean agreed to Veronica’s request at once while being hesitant with me, but it hadn’t. And that’s when I noticed that this was acceptance. Slowly and gradually, I had come to terms with reality - a reality where Sean was just my past and Veronica’s present, hopefully, future too. He wasn’t mine to love.
And when the realization had hit me, not really a surprise, I had smile wider, if that was possible. “Great, Central Park, near the benches. See you on Sunday at 5:00.” I had said and turned around, walking away, leaving most of the student body shocked and the rest, whispering about my new plan to break their favorite couple. I had just snickered and grinned wider listening to their illogical theories.
It didn’t hurt anymore.
When I got home today after school and was getting ready for a party Tracy has begged me to come, my eyes fell upon Mr. Bearymore, the same huge snow white teddy that had marked the beginning of mine and Veronica’s friendship. I had still used it to cuddle for a long time after our fall out but it had been hard to even look at it after my awful eighteenth birthday. So I had hidden it at the back of my closet, hoping to never see it again.
Today, as I see it, there’s a soft smile playing on my face as I relive my first memory with Veronica.
Suddenly, I know what to do and how to be there for Veronica, even if the imaginary line keeps us from crossing the limits. This is the least I could do for the girl I used to proudly call my best friend, even if it’s the last thing I do.
I grin and run to my desk, pulling out a white sheet of paper from my art book and my black ink pen. This is going to be the last goodbye, a proper one, I think as I start to pen down what I want to say, what I didn’t think I ever would.
When I’m done, it’s sometime around 5:00 pm. I get up from my seat on the desk, the now not so blank piece of paper folded and secured in a light pink envelope and head back into my closet, picking out Mr. Bearymore. I wrap it in rolls of cellophane wraps to protect it from getting dirty, as I had been doing for past fourteen years. Tying the envelope with a red ribbon and attaching it around Mr. Bearymore’s neck, I take the huge teddy in my arms and skipped downstairs.
“Woah, okay.” Dad asks, surprised. “Where are you heading with this bear here?”
I put Mr. Bearymore down on the stairs and smile at my father who I hadn’t seen much of in last few days but we were good and that was okay. “Hey, Dad. I’m just recycling some old things.” I shrug. “Some old memories.” I add.
Dad gives me an amused smile. “You were obsessed with this stuffed animal. And you’re recycling?” He asks, raising his eyebrows.
I smile and nod. “Yeah. You’re heading towards the restaurant, right? Can you drop me off somewhere on the way?”
He nods. “Yeah, sure. Where to?”
I pick up Mr. Bearymore once again, following him out of the door and towards his car. “The Wilde’s.” I say, securing the huge teddy in the backseat.
He purses his lips and enter’s the driver’s side while I climb in the passenger’s seat in front and he immediately backs away out of our driveway. “I don’t think that is a recycling place.” I hear him mumble and bite back my smile.
“I’m a bid girl, daddy. And I need to handle some things like a big girl.” I tell him.
He shrugs, taking the turn towards the small house the Wilde’s occupied. “I don’t know about that, all I know is that you’ll always be my Princess.”
“You bet.” I grin as he pulls on the curb to their house. “Thanks, Dad. I’ll see you later.” I say, getting out.
I open the backdoor and take out my favorite possession in toys. “Are you sure? I can wait and drive you back home.”
“I’m sure.” I say, positive. He nods and waves me goodbye before driving away.
I sigh and turn around, facing the small, five bedroom yellow house that I once called home. It still is the same as I remember and it still feels as if I’m walking into my own home as I walk down the driveway and to the porch.
Kaden, Veronica’s fourteen year old brother is sitting on the porch steps, a solemn look on his face. He looks up when he hears my footsteps and his eyes widen when he sees me, recognizing immediately.
“Leah!” He exclaims, standing up and wrapping his now grown up body around me. He was ten when I last saw him and talked to him. The four years sure did him good.
I chuckle, dropping down the teddy and hug him back. “Nice to see you too, Kade.”
He pulls back and frowns. “I’m mad at you. You stopped coming around.”
I sigh and bend down to pick up Mr. Bearymore placing it beside me as I sit on the porch and he copies me. “I know. I left you hanging, didn’t I?”
He nods. “Yup. So, are you here to finally date me?”
The serious look on his face makes me laugh. “Not yet, kiddo. We’ll see about that when you’re legal.” He had always had a crush on me and would always follow me around when Veronica and I were still close.
“Don’t think I’ll forget about what you said right now. I’ll come hunting you down when I’m eighteen.” He warns.
“Oops.” I grin.
He smiles slightly but that wavers. He sighs and looks away, the same pained look painted on his face. I’m immediately reminded of his parent’s divorce. I wrap one hand around his still lanky shoulders. “Hey, I know it’s a stupid question but are you okay?”
Immediately, he turns to me and hides his face in my neck. “He left, Leah.” He sobs.
“Hey, shush.” I rub his back. “It’s okay, Kade.” I say, not knowing anything else to say to the boy who’s father just left him and his family.
“He left us for another woman, another family.” He mumbles, crying. “He doesn’t love us. He left. I hate him so much. I hate him and that woman he’s marrying.”
If it were any other day, I would have pointed out that that’s exactly what Veronica and Sean did to me but I don’t think he knows anything about it and I don’t want to tell him either. I don’t want to ruin Veronica’s image in his eyes, the boy admires his older sister. I’m not as petty as I used to be.
“Hey, I’m sure he loved you, all of you. Don’t hate him, Kade.”
“He left us for another woman, Leah!” Kade snaps and back away from me. “He promised to love Mom and now he’s leaving mom and going to make the same empty promises to that new woman. And who knows, maybe one day he’ll leave her and go to another.” He spits, his voice laced with venom.
“Or maybe he really loves her.” I say softly.
Kade scoffs. “Right, like he loved Mom.”
I sigh and purse my lips, not really knowing what to say. We both sit in silence, going over certain things in our minds. “What happened to you and Ronnie, Lee? You one day stopped coming over and Ronnie stopped speaking about you. It was like whatever you both had just disappeared. You were best friends forever.” He says softly.
I smile a bittersweet smile. “We were. But Kade, our forever ended a long time ago. What we had, it didn’t disappear, it never will. It just stopped being what it was. And that was when our forever ended.” I turn to look at the fourteen year old beside me. “Forever is not a timeless limit of life, Kade. It is the amount of time that gives you immense happiness, gives you shelter during the worst storms, is your anchor that keeps you from drowning during the floods. Forever can be as long as time goes and it can be as short as a minute. And Veronica and I’s forever, it was a span of few years.”
I look out in front of us to the front yard I remembered playing as a kid. “Our friendship stopped being a friendship, but it never died, it never will. The memories we made together in those limited years, that is our forever.”
“She isn’t your Ronnie anymore.” He says in a whisper.
I nod, smiling sadly. “She isn’t.”
Kade has been listening to everything I say intently, not looking away from me and I feel the need to look him in the eyes when I tell him the next words. “I’m sure your father loved you, your Mom and Veronica. And he promised to love your Mom forever, but their forever ended, Kade. The memories they made didn’t. You and Veronica - the best thing they ever made didn’t. And you never will. So instead of hating him for leaving you, thank him for loving you for as long as he did. And I’m sure that he will continue loving you and Veronica, he is divorcing your Mom, not you guys.”
Kaden sighs, looking away. “But he didn’t just leave us, Leah. He left us for another woman.” He repeats the one thing he has been repeating.
I smile sadly. “That’s the saddest, yet the best thing about love, kiddo. It doesn’t see right and wrong, good or bad. In fact, it doesn’t see anything. It just loves.”
Kaden takes in all my words and looks skyward, blinking away the fresh tears. Shaking his head, he stands up. “I don’t know anything. I need to clear my head.” He mumbles and walks away, out of the driveway and to who knows where.
I sigh and look at Mr. Bearymore. “Life just loves fucking around, doesn’t she, Mr. Bearymore?” I get and pick the stuffed animal, walking towards the main doors. “It’s a goodbye, baby. Now your new responsibility is to look after the person who was initially going to be your owner before I came and stole you away. Look after her for me, will you?” I whisper to my teddy and hug it tight before putting it carefully on the doormat outside the front door.
Taking a deep breath, I ring the doorbell.
With one last look at my favorite toy, I turn on my heels and walk out of their porch and driveway while I can faintly hear Mrs. Wilde calling out for her daughter to answer the door.
On the road now, I wrap my arms around myself and start my walk back home, a smile playing on my lips as I slowly let go of the things and people who have been tying me down, only preserving the best of all memories.
Two down, one more to go.
With that thought, I take out my phone from the back pocket of my jeans and sent out a text, leaving behind old memories and on my way on creating new ones.
Hey Trace, screw the party.
Let’s have a girl’s night.
Pick Maggie up and get your ass at my place in an hour.