Linked as it was to each of the seasons, in order for me to discard the memory of Albertine I should have had to forget them all, even if it meant having to get to know them all over again, like an old man learning to read again after a stroke; I should have had to renounce the entire universe. Nothing, I told myself, but a veritable extinction of myself would be capable (but that is impossible) of consoling me for hers. It did not occur to me that the death of oneself is neither impossible nor extraordinary; it is effected without our knowledge, sometimes against our will, every day of our lives.
Marcel Proust, The Fugitive, p. 494
Marcel continues to work through his sorrow at the death of Albertine. The other day he was talking about the hundreds of different Albertines he would have to forget, which is a reflection on the many different masks we all wear but also the many different ways in which two people are linked. You're not simply trying to forget her propensity to write you little notes, which you remember when another woman writes you a note, but also how she took her coffee, which you remember when you have coffee with another woman - or that one thing that she did sexually, which you remember, clumsily, and painfully, when you're having sex with another woman - or her love of your favorite musician, which you remember when you're discussing with another woman her disdain for your favorite musician - or her plans for your future together, which you remember when you're discussing another woman's plans for your future, etc. There are many corners of your world where she hides. It's not simply the near impossibility of eliminating all these Albertines, but the realization that if it is possible to do so then it is certainly possible to eliminate you as well. As Proust notes, "It did not occur to me that the death of oneself is neither impossible nor extraordinary; it is effected without our knowledge, sometimes against our will, every day of our lives." Or, as Marcus Aurelius reminded us, "Soon you will have forgotten the world, and the world will have forgotten you."