It has been suggested that memories exist only to enable an understanding of the future. That by its very design the act of remembering keeps us facing forward. The same regions of our brain that light up in a moment of reflection also fizz and spark when we foretell. Suspended between these two states – by what has been and what just might be – our souvenirs become our guideposts. It is memory that ensures we look both ways.
If I cannot imagine a future with you there, what does this mean for my past? What happens to who we were, and how we were together? To the woman I was in your arms? Can she survive the loss of her best parts? And do I erase just a little more each time I dream of what comes next? I hold a most reluctant desire for tomorrow when I think of all that I must leave behind.
And you. I so often asked you to tell me – what do you remember? Even in the earliest glow – tell me what you remember. Was I trying to ensure my place in your future? Was I lighting the path for you to follow? Perhaps I had an instinct for how this works, for how re-telling the past ensures its survival.
And you said once – I remember every day. You told me that you remembered every day. This was the single safest place you ever took me, the lighthouse of that sentence. It sheltered me for years. Even when we stopped emitting our glow.
Did you know that the light we see from certain stars is really just the past finally reaching us? That for the stars furtherest away, the light reaches out through time to show us what was – even when that star no longer exists? So many times when we look up it is simply the memory of stars we see written across the night sky. A memorial to the past can be seen in every constellation. Sometimes the entire sky is lit up by all the stars that used to be.
Which is why I look up when I want to find you.
– an elegy for our stars.