Past Change

Don’t use Harold’s candy jar for your loose change. Don’t forget why you keep things. Don’t forget your father preaching about the resurrection and the different ways we live it. Don’t forget how your memories can keep Harold alive forever. Spend time remembering when he lived next door to you and you could always stop by for a game of cribbage or just a visit. Remember that his wife Doris would greet you with a smile and Harold would be on his dusty green recliner. Doris always let the men have the stage. Remember how sitting in their house was like a trip back in time, how it never changed, and there were only reasons to believe it had been that way forever. After cribbage or a story from the past, there was the candy jar. Don’t forget your tiny hands digging in for a piece of sugar before placing the lid back on tight for the next visit. Remember Harold smiling and patting you on the back, and Doris yelling goodbye from her bedroom. Don’t forget how his eyes brightened when he saw you from his hospital bed. Remember telling him goodbye. Don’t forget how you felt when Doris gave you the candy jar.

Don’t use Harold’s candy jar for your loose change. Don’t forget why you keep things. It will fill with change before you know it, and you will have fallen in love too quickly, leaving behind an empty bedroom to move in with your girl and start a new life too soon. Don’t worry too much about making mistakes—just don’t leave the candy jar behind. Your roommate didn’t know Harold, and your roommate didn’t know why you kept the jar. He needed the money, and you had left to start your new family. By this time, he probably already knew he would never start a family, never escape the twenties life style you temporarily enjoyed, but so easily discarded. Don’t think you can still get the rest of the stuff later. Get it all the first time. Quit procrastinating. Your roommate could never quit the bottle, but he could take Harold’s candy jar because he needed the money. If you didn’t leave the jar behind, you wouldn’t have to worry about my next piece of advice. Don’t think about how once he converted your coins to cash, he had to get rid of the candy jar that was a reminder of how low he had stooped. Don’t think about how he threw it off the scenic overlook at the dam just to watch it break. Don’t spend too much time thinking about how you should have called him on it, or how some things should be worth fighting for. By this time, you were starting a family and the daughter on your way didn’t need that fight. This all could have been avoided.

Don’t use Harold’s candy jar for your loose change. Don’t forget why you keep things. Don’t kick yourself because your new family broke apart before it could become old. Don’t spend too much time thinking about your former roommate into his forties, lying on the ground, unable to get up until his last friend slowly pours vodka into his mouth. Don’t worry what the judge thought about your former roommate as he went into seizures on the court room floor because he tried to be sober for the five long hours leading up to a drunk driving hearing. Don’t try to think of what you could have done to fix him. There wasn’t anything. Don’t try to find the difference in paths people can take. Don’t feel bad that your life could find success from failure, while his life never knew what success looked like. Don’t worry about forgetting. Your memories will live forever. Harold’s candy jar is as solid as ever. You will always be the boy ready to talk or play a game and then grab a piece of candy before you go. You weren’t the thing that was broken.


(Originally published by 1000 Words)