Time heals all wounds? These are the best times of our lives? Memory is a funny thing. Some scientist would just say it’s a collection of neurons firing in the recesses of my brain, bringing up some photo or smell. Maybe an emotional response to a current situation based on something that happened in the past. Right now my memory of the little girl who kissed me on the nose is as vivid as my memory of the first girl I ever kissed. Sure there is a small relationship between those two events, positive emotions; but the events are separated by more than 30 years.
A rolodex of emotions and memories come flowing out when I think about how life has been the last year, the direction things are headed over the time left in front of me. The truly fun parts of dealing with depression and declining health is that you have to fight to keep positive and the only way to do that is try to cling to “good” memories. They call it a reason to live, something or someone to fight for or to have by your side. That’s the entire reason for running to Boston, remove myself from the memories that are in several ways destroying me. The pain here is only what I bring with me.
My emotions tend to be all over the place, and I keep them to myself. Tomorrow is the birthday of two people, one my cousin who I love for all the wacky things he did when I was a kid. Tony’s 15 years old than me and when he would come for the night, it was great. He’d pull out a bass guitar, I’d be on a keyboard and my brother would play his guitar. We also squeezed in some basketball with his friends. It wasn’t until years later I realized he had been drinking way too much. But my 13 year old mind recalls those visits and just all of the fun we had. [Yes he got help later for the drinking, good for him!]
The other birthday is harder for me to celebrate. I love this woman as much as my cousin, although she isn’t related to me in any fashion genealogy would recognize. But I also know that she has no idea where I am and I’ve kept it that way on purpose. Her happiness is extremely important to me, I don’t know if I want to give up those memories. She’s more important than just a card, but that’s what she’ll get.
I’m learning to adjust how I allow myself to react when I recall these things. It is completely heart-wrenching thinking about my daughter not being around. I have other memories, really good ones like when I first heard a heartbeat or learned that she was in fact a “She”. There are others related to her, but they sometimes get pushed back by that last memory.
For me, I’m trying to establish those positive memories for someone else. If the medical establishment is somewhat correct, the 14 year old young lady who tries very hard to help will be 16 when it may be my turn to be a memory. I know what loss is like at that age, for the next while the plan is to try as hard as possible to make her good memories outweigh the reality of watching someone fade. I understand now why my grandmother came home from the hospital that last Christmas, she wanted my brother and I to remember that, not what followed. She took a huge risk so that she could be with her family, only to return to the hospital right after we left. That had to be the hardest thing she ever did, and the most generous as well.
I hope at some point to be a kind story told to someone else. A memory carried forward. Being at peace with it all is hard, believe me you don’t understand the strength you find in accepting certain things about yourself.
Distant memories are bittersweet, or they’re painful, maybe even frightening to recall. But they can be just as vivid as the memories that we formed last night which become distant memories.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Memory on the Menu.”