In which I try very hard not to mention that I haven’t had a decent cup of coffee in almost three years…

 There are things that leave us.

There are things that fall through the cracks, or vanish into thin air, or slip so quietly out the back door that no one notices Elvis has left the building.

There are things that leave us. And then there are things that stay.

Some things stay for seconds, like the burst of flavour when you bite into a fruit, or a ball in a basketball player’s hands, or the thought of you sweating it out in a gym suit every day after school or work. Some things sit with us for a few seconds, and then they’re gone.

Other things stay for days, like the smell of freshly chopped onions on your fingernails, or an embarrassing throwback photo that someone tagged you in, or an all-consuming desire to hack a frenemy’s laptop so that it does nothing but play the Miley Cyrus VMA video on loop.

Some things stay with you for years, like some friendships, the nickname that your mother had for you, or the cool one that your cool friends gave you before you became just Mommy or Daddy to someone way cooler than them. You get to keep some things for years, like a favourite pair of jeans, or that ratty old shirt you always wear to bed, or a rotten figure, whether it’s your figure or one that appears and reappears on your payslip.

Then there are things that stay with you for a lifetime (or what feels like one): something that a former teacher said (whether it’s a cannot or a can), a line from a great book or a poem which you wish you had written, the fatty deposits on your tummy and hips that you got from eating all the sweets that only stayed for seconds on your lips, the image of your grandfather’s last breath or your baby’s first, the feeling that you’ll never measure up to an older sister or brother.

Some things never leave, whether we want them to or not. We take them as either a perpetual supply of manna from heaven or our daily crosses to bear. We learn peaceful coexistence with them. And if we’re lucky, at the some point, we begin to understand why they’re there.

Some things that leave do stay for a while. We let go of them when we have to. We stump the Darwinian reflex and open our hands, when what we mean to do, what is in our nature to do is to grasp.

There are things that leave us. And there are things that stay. Two heads of the same monster. The ebb and flow of the same river.

We dance with the monster. We swim in the river. (And to get us through, we dream about a decent cup of coffee in our hands.)