Saturday, November 16, 2013, 4:15 PM

I am only responsible for my own heart, you offered yours up for the smashing, my darling. Only a fool would give out such a vital organ. -Anais Nin

Unless you're looking to learn more about minor league baseball or yoga, my mother isn't anyone you'd go to for advice. In fact, I haven't asked her for a thing since she walked out on my dad when I was eleven. But right now, for whatever reason, her voice keeps butting its way into my thoughts.

I must have been eight or nine when I'd tagged along to one of her tripped out hippie gatherings in Seattle. A woman from her group had been in an accident and a man with a doctorate in hypnosis and meditation was going to help her "overcome" the pain. What they weren't expecting was for the woman in question to be as weary as she was. So my mom, always the team player, volunteered to be hypnotized first, at which point she was "sent back" to her childhood. When she returned to our table she started telling me all about a night she'd spent at her friend's house as a kid, and how she could still smell the wet nail polish. She was gushing about how that smell still always made her think about the weekly sleep overs they used to share.

After a few minutes of my silence I found her smiling down at what I'm sure was a perplexed expression. Then she giggled.

"Sense of smell has the strongest ties to memory, kiddo."

You can probably guess that such wise words were followed by a pinch on the cheek before she turned around and focused all of her attention on the rest of the meeting.

It only took two decades but I finally understand what she meant. For days I've mentally prepared myself, and now it's moot. The sight of him was near crippling during the ceremony, but this, right now, is hell. I'm on the verge of actually holding my breath because his scent is that invasive.

With his breath on my shoulder, I can close my eyes and pretend I'm not wearing this dress and he's not in a tux. I can almost feel the skin of his bare chest against my back. I should have known his absence at the rehearsal dinner would be the last of my luck this weekend. I should have known there's only so much distance the maid of honor can put between herself and the best man. Since my life is filled with such comedic twists, it's no wonder that everyone in the wedding party thought it would be hilarious to do a prom pose for the wedding album.

I've felt his stare all day but I haven't returned it once. If I do, I know I'll never be able to stand by my decision, and that's just not an option.

Staying out of his life, at best, is the least I can do for him now.