It was a unique day today. I won’t say that I have felt melancholy today….more like I knew something was going to happen. I got up as normal, showered, shaved, drove to work, mechanically did my appointed tasks…you know, all that ho hum, work-a-day stuff. I was in no way prepared for what was looming around the corner at lunchtime.
Now, I have talked about most of my relationships…..but there is one that I have not even shared with my dearest friend or my partner. It wasn’t that it was so painful…but it was..and it wasn’t…and it was confusing and I didn’t know what to do with myself. This was my very first relationship…in my mind, I put it into a special compartment….where it existed on its own, apart from my other relationships….but also where it didn’t exist.
I was very young. We had been dating for five years. We met when I was sixteen. It had happened by accident. He was a sweet boy the same age as me. We did everything together. We went hiking, white water rafting. We discussed poetry and languages and wondered to each other about where we would be when we were fifty. We were in our fifth year together and making arrangements for me to move in with him. His family didn’t like me and mine didn’t like him….all because being a couple made both sides face the truth of who we were and who we were becoming.
Then it happened. I got a call from a friend who worked with the local VFW. There had been a fire. They had found him unconscious hanging halfway out of a large window. I rushed to the hospital. He was still unconscious. The family let me into the room for ten minutes. Then I was hurriedly ushered out. From that point on, I was not allowed to go back into the room. I was alerted a few weeks later that he was coming around. He would recover physically, but one thing had happened. His memory was gone. He couldn’t remember much of anything but bits and pieces. He had no clue who I was.
His aunt was appointed his caretaker. She had gone into his home while he was in the hospital and removed all traces of me. She had taken all photos, all gifts…anything that might stir any kind of memory. In one puff of smoke….I had been erased from his life. To him, I had never existed.
I was hurt…confused. How could someone be so inconsequential that they could be wiped completely from someones memory. Not one speck of me existed in any of the recesses of his mind. It was as if someone had gone into that big whiteboard of his mind and wiped everything clean. I had become Mr. Cellophane.
Most people would have crumbled under these circumstances…..I proved something to myself in those months. I am stronger than any situation that can hit me. I decided at the moment that I was “removed” from his life…that from then on, I would always be memorable.
It was then that I continued my pursuit of acting and singing for a time. It was then that I gathered the strength that I would need to eventually be a pastor to hundreds. It was then that I pulled from what was buried deep inside of me to begin the study of the Craft. It was then that I began my journey into what would become the Weathered Wiseman.
In the years that followed, I did all the things that would make me, me. I don’t regret one thing. Have I said some things I shouldn’t have? Sure. Have I done some things that I might have been able to live without doing? Sure. Have I lived a life instead of existing? Definitely. Have I lived a life erased or invisible? Oh Hell No!! I am stubborn, opinionated, funny, loving, wise, and all over awesome. Not because I was erased from someones memory…but in spite of it.
I have learned so many things over the course of this journey…..things that I may have never learned had things taken a different turn. I think on it now….the element that I most identify with is Fire. The element that changed my life the most…..Fire.
Many years later, I was working at a local retail store. He came in with his aunt (who didn’t realize I was working there). He looked me in the eyes and smiled that smile that I had known so intimately. His aunt politely said, “This is Dave.” He looked at me quizzically. “It’s so nice to meet you, Dave.” Once again, he was hurriedly ushered out of my life. I sighed. It hadn’t hurt as much as I thought it would.
Back to today….I had gone home for lunch like I always do to walk the dogs. I spent a little extra time looking at the different plants and flowers poking their lazy little heads out from the dirt. I had just finished walking the dogs and was rounding the courtyard. My phone rang. It was my mother. She said, “David, I am off work today and the strangest message was on the answering machine when I got back from the grocery store. It’s for you. I don’t know who it is. It’s just strange.” She played the message into the phone. It was very brief, but very powerful at the same time. The words spoken were, “Dave, it’s me. I don’t know if you are even still at this number. I don’t know if you even still live around here. I just wanted to let you know….I finally remembered you.” Then I heard the dial tone.
All he did was confirm what I had already known. I am not and will not be erased. I am not Mr. Cellophane. I am far too strong to ever be invisible. I am content. I hope he is.