You will forever be in my heart


You will forever be in my heart. I first came across this phrase, not from relatives from Ireland, but from watching the inspiring Young@Heart chorus singing their version of Forever Young at Hampshire County Jail, after finding out one of their members had recently died. It was enormously powerful and moving – and the inmates, quite rightly,  gave it a standing ovation. Amid the applause, and the meeting of inmates and seniors, one inmate shows them his respect with the phrase “You’re in my heart forever”.

You will forever be in my heart.

Moments, memories, people. These are what stay in our heart forever. I visited some of my old teachers recently, and we shared food, wine and memories. Rather insanely, I’d taken part in a Knife Throwing Act with my Art Teacher for a revue performance. thinking that there was some magic trick involved. There wasn’t, as I realised when the third knife he’d picked up from the school canteen, landed itself between my legs. A tailcoat I wore for the act still bears the puncture mark of one of the knives.

Ah, good times. The conversation turned to not so good times – recollections, scandals, undiscovered secrets and scandals involving paedophiles, suicides, abuse and cover-ups. For the most part, what remained in hearts was good – amazing people, a beautiful environment. A lot of losses, too – school was a long time ago, and I’ve lost close friends since, as well as teachers and other people we knew mutually. They do live in our hearts forever, books in a library waiting to be burned down. Those darker memories also have their impact – further abuse, addiction, suicide, the taint of institutions protecting reputations and not children.

i was always a step away from what happened. I only heard about it many years after, when survival wasn’t dependant on being believed, and when choices to reveal could, or must, be made.

Memory is a funny thing. About the same time, on social media, timelines filled up with pictures and accounts of people remembered on World AIDS Day. People who had left us before medicine caught up, before our strongest enemy became stigma. Like the final scene in Longtime Companion, the memories of lost friends blur into a walk in history, and sometimes I find myself saying hello or goodbye with the wrong people.

Most of the people I now carry in my heart are those I choose to invite. I’ve shown some an exit door – some go willingly, so linger or return in different ways, at different times. For the most part, we live in harmony and share songs and laughter. Occasionally, a heart will break from the weight of memory, and I’ll do the best that I can to heal it in some way. So my heart is, literally and emotionally, full of patches and tears breaks, resounding to a beat that reminds me I’m still here. With all the people and memories that I carry.

And perhaps You will forever be in my heart should be a welcome, and not a goodbye. An invitation as well as a declaration. Allow me to love you, to meet and walk with you on your journey for a while. And if we should part, for whatever reason ….

You will forever be in my heart

Although all of the above is a lie. The phrase itself is Irish for ‘May I have permission to go to the toilet.’   I was hoodwinked by my own gullibility. I’ve mistaken a profound feeling for being taken for a ride. On the one hand, I find it hilarious. On the other, I stay with the translation as I read it. Like memory, I can choose the tainted, or the good.

I’d just rather believe you will have a place in my heart, than tell me to go  p off ….