Paradise - A Poem

Written by Monica Arsenault


When we reflect on the events of our past, our memories strap us in and take us on an emotional roller coaster ride. We recall the happiness of our past experiences, slowly building us up into a frenzy of joyful remembrance until we reach the top. And for one moment we can see everything: every joy, every sorrow, everything that made us who we are today. And then we rapidly fall to the bottom, plummeting towards the sadness and despair of our memories. We are overcome with sorrow because these memories were experienced with people we may never see again in places we may never visit again. 

 
These are people we try to convince ourselves mean nothing and places we say are long gone from our memory.  But, we never truly stopped loving those people and we never stopped visiting those places.  


And those memories are glorious and wonderful and bring immense joy. And then I feel a lump in my throat and my eyes feel heavy as the roller coaster takes me, twisting, through my memories of you. 


Memories of us.


Memories of two perfect summers that will fade as a speck into the ever-expanding timeline of my summers past and my summers still to come.


Summers that will never again be shared with you.


I struggle with the looping roller coaster of sorrow accompanying these memories infused with joy.  This previously untainted place attached to my identity is now tainted with memories of you.


You tainted it with your smile,

With your laugh, 

With your dancing, 

Your stories, 

Your energy,

Your competitions,

Your eyes


And I want to disappear.


I want to disappear into the memory.


I want to disappear into the present.


I want to forget.  To remember.


Do you remember?


Do you remember how you came out onto the deck and told me that the necklace I was wearing looked beautiful on me?  You had given it to me the night before for my birthday.


Do you remember me telling you that I liked letting my hair dry in the sun when you asked why I was reading outside instead of inside with everyone else?


Do you remember taking the book from my hands, standing me up, and facing me towards the ocean, your arms slowly wrapping around my waist, and telling me my hair looked dry now?


Do you remember looking out at the crashing waves as we heard the shouts of my mother and brother calling to my father and sister-in-law from the balcony above to come outside and look at the dolphins?


Do you remember thanking me for bringing you to paradise? Do you remember calling it paradise?


Do you remember kissing me gently on the cheek and softly saying, “The sun does wonders to your hair”?


Do you remember?


I can still feel your arms around my waist, your lips on my cheek, your cool breath on my neck under the hot sun.  And I can feel the loop of the roller coaster coming around again. The joy disappearing into sorrow as I disappear from my memory into present day.  As I disappear from your memories and you disappear from my future.  The endless summers ahead of us fade into those two summers as the timeline grows and the rollercoaster continues.


Until one day another voice may come along whispering much more beautifully, “The sun does wonders to your hair.” And maybe, for another two summers, the roller coaster slows down, steadies, and only dips occasionally.


- 2016 -