“Do you think closure exists?”
The letters of the text message, restless and exposed at the front of my inbox, begin rising with a leavening of old love stories we once spent hours telling to one another.
It is funny how the very word can send doors swinging wide open after having been locked for years. Doors you swore you lost the keys to.
She’s asking me because I am a relationship guru, a closure Buddha, I think. Because I have mastered the art of letting go, that’s why. No, she’s asking me because the word has meant a lot to me in the past and I am still not perfect when it comes to closure. Turns out, none of us are.
When I was younger my definition of closure was two parts what I digested during Dawson’s Creek and one part my attending a Closure Ceremony in the 9th grade.
A Closure Ceremony. My first and only one. Translation: A group of girlfriends sitting on the driveway as July hissed humidity into our hair, watching our friend with a broken heart bigger than her own body take a hammer into her hands and begin smashing a slew of keepsakes that a boy had given to her throughout two years.
“I am over him,” she said, after chucking the broken pieces of a charm bracelet he had assembled for her tiny wrist into the bog beside her house. “I don’t want to think about him ever again.”
For years following that night I thought I might tell people that closure was smashing a teddy bear with your father’s hammer until the voice box inside gave out.
But the part of it all that I didn’t understand was that even after the Closure Ceremony she still waited, ready to pounce on any conversation that carried his name. To Spill Ten Thousand Stories About Him as if she were being granted permission to speak after years of silence. To make herself a victim to Ten Thousand Stories where the ending never gave her any sense of “Happily” or “Ever” or “After.”
And so instead, closure became a word to me that didn’t make much sense and yet the world was obsessed with talking about it as if we were legitimately closing things. Toy Boxes. Screen Doors. Treasure Chests. A concept that allows us to mold excuses like play dough to explain why we cant get into that next relationship or why it is just too difficult to move on.
It just seems like a fancy metaphor for what we all really need to say but never find the space or place to say it out loud: This hurts. It hurts really, really bad. And sure, it is in the past but I sometimes feel the prick as strongly as the day it happened. And I don’t know how to move forward. And I cannot inch my way around trusting that it won’t happen again. And I want to stand still and dissolve a little. Because it hurts. There, I said it, it hurts.
But I have always believed that this is what humanity is all about: learning to dance even in that pain. Even with every single door around us swinging open and closed. A Symphony of Swinging Doors. And Yet We Still Dance to the Rickety Tunes Life Spins onto Our Record Players.
To close, for good, would mean to stop telling a story that we know by heart. Not to forget the beginning or the middle or the end, because that won’t ever happen if we are thinking practical. But to silence our heart when the story comes up and threatens us with sadness that perches like gargoyles on old, beautiful cathedrals.
Closure. I think it does exist. But only when we stop living in circles of “what was” to meander our way into “what could be.”
Only when we admit to ourselves that we deserve Good Stories, Better Stories. The Best Stories. Without so much bruising and battering on a daily basis. And surprisingly, it takes a lot of courage to want that for ourselves.
Only when we validate with words that, “Yes, that time in my life was painful and it was hard, but I got stronger. Maybe my heart broke, my knees shook, and maybe sometimes I wish that it never actually happened but I am writing a better story off of what I know now. And with just one look I can already tell you, my sentences are stronger than they have ever been before.”