Sometimes forgetting is easy.
At least that is what I thought.
So easy, we don’t even know we have forgotten. Other times we lie awake at night unable to forget, unable to let go.
I started with the simple things, forgetting my wallet or my keys. Forgetting why I’d walked into the room. Birthdays and other such anniversaries were easy. I already had plenty of experience of forgetting those. Even though I did find it hard to forget those looks my wife gave me when I’d forgotten her birthday, or one of the children’s birthdays, or our anniversary.
Now there is no need to remember our anniversary, I cannot forget it. I can’t forget that look on Fiona’s face the day we married either. Nor can I forget that last look she gave me, lying on that bed in the hospital as the machines fell into silence around her.
For a while after that, I drank to forget.
It didn’t work.
By then, luckily Sam and Debbie were almost grown up. It didn’t matter all that much that for a long time I forgot how to be a parent. At least that was what I told myself. But everywhere I looked I saw memories of Fiona and remembered that we’d been happier than I’d realised at the time.
That is hard to forget, especially all those far too many times I could have made us happier but I was too busy being an arsehole.
That is hard to forget – all the mistakes I made in the past. Each one you have to chip away from the memory and hurl into the sea of forgetting. Still, they wash up on the shore of remembering every now and then no matter how far out to sea you throw them.
I found it easier to forget by moving away, coming here to live by the sea. Each morning I walk on the beach alone, trying to forget more and more.
I have left my family behind. The kids do not need me, even though they do try to stay in touch. But they have lives of their own. My parents are long gone, and I never cared much for my other family and they never liked me. Even then, I was good at forgetting. I can’t even remember now the names of any of my aunties and uncles or how many cousins there were.
There is a village a mile or two down the coast from my cottage. Now I can sometimes forget it is there and the headland becomes empty of those houses dotting it, like the memories I still can’t lose. But each day I get better at forgetting.
One day soon, I will be able to forget that sky above me, and the sea that stretches out to meet it. I will forget the dry land I walk upon and then, last of all I will forget to be me, and then all this remembering will be gone and I will be free to be no-one and nothing at last.