I go through the days with a firm resolve and the same goal that pulled me back from the edge of that precipice now propels me forward.
But it is never an easy thing to drag anyone away from the carcasses of their hopes and the mortuary of dreams. It is not enough to say to the soul, “look here, it is dead. Let it go.”
The soul will not have it. It will not be reasoned with. Because wherever a person’s heart ventures – the soul plants its roots and calls it home. And you were my home.
You were home.
In the aloneness of this solitude I have no one to put up pretence for. But some habits must have somehow snuck into the tightly packed luggage I brought with me. Even though I am surrounded by strangers, I still pretend I am fine – as if they could tell the difference.
Some things are hard to live behind.
They are too burrowed deeply into the survival kit of our psyche. And they are forged by seasons of hardship, of pain and of life’s endless unknowable and unshareable sorrows.
Home is not a place. It is not a thing or an object. Home is a person. If you’re lucky it’s many people but for most of us – it’s usually just one person.
And even if the home goes up in flames the soul lingers round it like some crazed phantom refusing to believe that all is lost. The soul is too stubborn to be reasoned with.
It will keep you there. In the rubbles of the past, driving you mad with its frenzied desire to go through the rubble attempting to find something salvageable.
There is nothing left. It is all gone. And in the end you have to be okay with the fact that it’s gone. But your soul wants to go home to a home that no longer exists.
You show it pictures of the devastation. You show it the witness reports your heart has compiled over the years – detailing every pain sustained, every hurt inflicted and every self-demeaning act of retaliation.
Your mind weighs in – with minty fresh memories of disasters endured, of laughter that got extinguished and soul deep agonies to which the defenceless body curled up through long nights.
You want to tell the soul, “let’s go.” And it won’t budge. It won’t.
Like the desperate futility of holding on to the corpse of a cherished one, the soul wants to stay here.
Wants to try and nourish these drought-hardened soils. Wants to sacrifice itself by making manure out of its roots to fertilize the ground again… perchance something may spring up again.
You tell it “no. We have tried it all. It’s over. Let’s go. Please.”
And in the end you are left with no choice. You must go. This is no longer home. It hasn’t been for a very long time. You must go.
And so you wait until your soul takes a nap, lift it gently and tenderly; try to carefully uproot it from the ground and realize you can’t – it’s too deeply rooted.
If you don’t hurry, your soul will awake and keep begging you, “let’s try one last time. Please. Just one last time.”
But you know that one-last-time would be a waste of last times. You know the reserves containing your one-last-times have become depleted. You know you spent them on this very space and you are running out of one-last-times to spare.
You cannot try it one-last-time.
You are looking at the flatline on the screen, telling you that there is nothing left to resuscitate – that the dreams which once thrived have shrivelled and died. That the hopes which were on life support slipped into a coma and did not survive the wounds inflicted by sterilized loss.
Sterilized loss is a silent killer; a grief denied gains potency with time. Grief is a messy business but sterilizing it only pushes it deeper into our souls. By denying it an outlet – it becomes at home in our hearts – tiny slivers of unacknowledged pain.
We die from tiny defeats, from small let downs and from tiny flesh wounds…it is not their tininess that matters – it is their multitude – death by a thousand paper cuts is still a death.
Your soul is starting to stir and you know the nap will soon be over. You must go. And if you cannot convince your soul then you must just take it with you by force. There is nothing to stay here for.
So you grab it. Grab your reluctant soul and realize the roots are still tied to this ground. Your soul wakes up in alarm and demands to know where you’re taking it, why you don’t want to try one-last-time. You are done talking.
You tell your soul it is time to go. Go before you die in this mass grave containing all the dead dreams and hopes of the past.
Your soul says it will go but there’s a price, “Leave something behind. Leave a piece of me here. This used to be home. Something must be left behind. This used to be home.”
And so I carried my soul out of there, stumbled out into the open of a new day and am blinded by the brightness of future prospects.
“Put me down”, says my soul, “I can walk from here”.
I put it down and begin to walk, thinking that it was right by my side… but a few steps and I realize something is wrong.
I turn back to see my soul following with a limp, “what did you do?” I ask in distress.
And my soul says, “I left something behind. So that I could remember the home that once was. If I could not save it, then let me at least remember. It used to be home. It used to matter.”
Now I understand why my soul limps and why my smile curves into a sad tilt and why my laughter goes out of tune sometimes… ringing in a high falsetto.
You used to be home. You used to matter. And my soul limps to honour that.