It happens again — one more lover enters your life and then exits. For all of the giddy excitement at the beginning, a roller coaster cranking loudly up the starting ramp, there is an equal horror and emptiness as the one you held rushes away and you feel your stomach lift up in the air.

Now all you have are the trinkets you collected together. The mirror-glass rocks from the beach in Mendocino, a paperback Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that you would read aloud to each other at bedtime, a handmade Valentine’s day card with two kissing birds on it. The card says you’re “the chirp in my song” but you hold it in a silent room.

You wonder if these mementos are dangerous. Sad times are worse when you can look up and see how happy it was. Perhaps you can forget it was ever that good. Perhaps you can edit your memories and paint them with sorrow so the badness of the end can be there from the beginning. Then maybe you didn’t fall so far.

Yet you were the chirp in your lover’s song. To disbelieve that is to deny that there is such a thing as love. To deny that we are a race of dreamers, of explorers wandering through each other’s hearts like caves and making maps of the beauty we find. To deny that we are forever a race of children laughing and playing together.

You throw away the paper. The card and the book and the notes and the letters. You throw away the things that rot and mold and crumple. But the memories resist your scourge and there is no grief large enough to make the love un-real.

We do not measure loves or lives by their ends. You live a life of strength yet you slip away in a hospital bed. You raise children and grandchildren and yet you die in an accident, alone. You hold each other and yet you separate in tears.

We feel the end because it was recent. But the memories live up and down in the great fields of life spread across the middle and they cannot be undone.

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