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Advice is a past mistake regifted. So I’m enjoying Christmas in March. Everyone I know has offered me advice about getting over a breakup and each piece of advice is a piece of personal pain with a ribbon tied around it. I appreciate it, of course. I listen dutifully and say “I hadn’t thought of that,” which is a well-meaning bit of boilerplate that I am practiced at saying. My dad used to always joke that once a man became a father, he surrendered any right to expect holiday and birthday presents that he actually wanted. Fathers get socks and ties. So every time he got socks or ties, which was often, he’d chuckle and say, “This is exactly what I wanted.” He wasn’t disappointed, because the real gift of receiving a gift is in the wide-eyes of the giver. I am deeply thankful for all of the advice.

The point of life, I think, is to leave the following status update: “I loved as much as I could, up until the last nanosecond before it was taken away from me.”

A few “blind items” though. I don’t drink anymore, so keep the moonshine. I do not doubt that it is delicious. Yes, I know that song by Peaches, but if you don’t mind, for the time being, I think I’ll just masturbate the pain away. I’m totally going to join a gym, right after this donut. I am flattered that you’re so angry, but I’m not really angry and, I’m just saying, maybe you’re angry because you dumped her and now she’s blogging about having her first ever orgasm. Here’s some advice: read a bunch of comic books. They’re like Tiger Balm for the mind.

The majority of my friends tell me I need to “let go,” which is what I did in the first place, when I fell in love. I let go and it has been the sudden stop that I’m dealing with. Breaking up isn’t hard to do, actually, but the cleanup is a bitch. I’ve been here before and I know it’s not so bad. Just part of the deal. Heartache is the tax you pay for love. I’ve paid it many times and I’ll pay it again. We all pay it. I’m not just talking about romantic love either. Our lives are not defined by salaries, or awards, or followers. We are defined by two things: who we choose to love and how we choose to say goodbye to them. Lovers leave, best friends die, parents grow old and fade.

The point of life, I think, is to leave the following status update: “I loved as much as I could, up until the last nanosecond before it was taken away from me.”

I don’t believe in letting go of grief. As if it was so simple. I don’t even think it’s really possible. Sometimes grief strangles to you like an orphan kraken and won’t let go. Sometimes you try to cut the grief out with a knife, but it just grows back. But here’s my experience: grief never truly disappears; you just get used to it. Time heals all wounds, but scars can throb when it gets cold and limps last a lifetime. You might heal, but you’ll never forget the wound. You’ll keep living and growing and loving, but every once in awhile, you’ll be reminded of that past love. Man, that’s soooo Patsy Cline.

Grief makes you stronger though. It becomes part of you. When I grieve, I like to think of one of my favorite superheroes, Aquaman. Aquaman, for those of you who are unforgivably ignorant of classic American mythos, is the King of Atlantis. He can breathe under water and he rides a giant pink seahorse. He rides a giant pink seahorse because he can pull it off.

He can also talk to fish, which is cool because fish are underrated conversationalists. But Aquaman is super strong and super tough, especially when he’s on the surface. He’s not Superman strong, but he’s definitely, like, as strong as three Green Arrows. Maybe even three Green Arrows and a Hawkman. The reason Aquaman is so strong is because he has to be able to stand the immense pressures and frigid temperatures of the deep, deep sea. Grief has weight. It doesn’t stab. It squishes.

So I’m Aquaman slowly walking on the bottom of the ocean, crushed by dark waters. It’s a long, lonely walk but eventually my head will crash through the briny ceiling of the sea and the sun will shine down on my face. I’ll walk up onto the beach wearing my tight green pants and orange shirt with scales and I’ll be stronger. The memory of the weight of those waves will live in my muscles. I will carry that grief as if it were a cornflake on my shoulder and there in the distance are my friends, Batman and Wonder Woman, and she’ll check me out and I’ll think, “I’m going to ask that Amazon out on a date to Red Lobster.”

Follow John DeVore’s preening narcissism on Twitter.

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