One of my husbands very favorite movies is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind both for the cinematography and the message it conveys. He really wanted to share it with me but knew I wouldn’t appreciate some of the content which gave it an R rating, so he edited it on our computer.
I watched it with him last week. It was a little confusing at first but as the movie went on the events that were happening became clear. I loved the quirkiness of the movie and the way it had been constructed and when it’s ending came my husband and I had plenty to talk about. The gist of the movie is that a couple whose relationship is on the rocks goes to a specialist to erase each other from their memories. After they’ve done so they have a chance meeting and are interested in each other immediately. And soon after that they are sent tapes upon which are recorded their bad memories of each other and they realize what they have done. In spite of knowing that things turned for the worse they decide to be together again.
It made me wonder if I would erase some of the painful experiences I’ve had in my life. Or if I would change past decisions if I could. It was more interesting that I had watched it just a week or so after I had returned home since my thoughts had been turned toward someone from my past while I was in Utah.
There are simply times where you see a place or smell something, and memories, whether good or bad seem to overwhelm you. Perhaps you thought all emotion that came with them had disappeared but were shocked to realize how keenly you felt that loss, or that stab of jealousy or that regret.
What a blessing to be able to open my heart up to my husband. We both loved only once before we found each other. My husband called things off with his girlfriend shortly before he went on an LDS mission. When he returned he was afraid that contacting her might see him fall back into the relationship despite being sure she wasn’t the girl he wanted to marry. She was a wonderful person, but he felt she wasn’t right for him. She had a friend invite him to lunch with her friends not to long after he returned and they had a nice time but he kept his distance and didn’t contact her again. Then, a few weeks before he and I were to be married he received a call from her family. She had been killed in a car accident. It was then that my husband found out she had been recently engaged and getting ready for her own marriage.
I remember sitting next to him and his sister at a church activity and as a hymn played I saw him silently sobbing. Was he still in love with her? No, but of course he still cared. He regretted avoiding her. He lamented to me that they could have been friends, that they could have shared their excitement with each other over having found someone they wanted to spend their lives with if he hadn’t been so afraid. He’s still regretful over the decision to avoid her. If he could he would change his actions there.
My situation was a bit different. My boyfriend when I met Tom, was serving an LDS mission. I had decided that I wanted to date while he was gone but I was certain I would marry him when he returned. I loved him a lot and faithfully wrote him twice a week. He must have been shocked then when my letters just stopped coming. When I couldn’t write him because I didn’t know how to say that I wasn’t sure about our future anymore. I hadn’t been looking for someone else but when that someone else showed up, I knew it was right. That didn’t make it any easier for me. I was in love with two men and my heart and the guidance I had received from prayer were tearing me in opposite directions.
I had such firm ideas. I was going to be the Mormon girl who waited for her missionary, I was going to marry the man who had been my first kiss, my first love. I wished I were deciding between something good or bad. Instead I was forced to choose between great and great. In the end I decided if I had prayed for an answer and received it, I should follow it. I did and I have no regrets on that score. As I look back on our marriage and the things we’ve gone through I know I was guided to someone who didn’t struggle with depression as I did, for very good reasons.
But that doesn’t diminish the fact that a little piece of my heart will always be missing. And like any wound, sometimes it still hurts. But I wouldn’t erase my first love if I could. I cherish the wonderful memories I have when we were together. I only hope that some of the pain I caused him when I finally wrote him to tell him good-bye has dissipated and that he is as happy now as I am.