“I miss innocence/ I miss the arms of my mother/ I miss feeling light, like a childhood summer.” -Sara Groves There is a certain ambiguous heaviness I feel every year around this time. I think most anyone who has suffered a significant loss that ties back to a certain time and series of days can relate on some level. There is a deep longing, an ache, a trying to bring back someone, or somewhere, or sometime. There is a sense that you have lost something, or maybe it is you that is lost, a sense of reaching out and grasping, of holding on, and then realizing, what was there, is not, but also that what is there, is not lost. What is left, what is not lost, is the pure sweet memory of what was. It is with these thoughts that I re-post my first blog post, in memory of my mother:
Memories are part of who we are. They are deeply embedded in us, in a place that almost has a touch of the holy. When it seems we have been robbed of all that is important to us, they remain a sanctuary, mostly untarnished. Even for those who have difficulty remembering information that seems essential to daily living, memories have a way of nestling into the fabric of their lives. For all of us, memories are a road map to reclaiming some of our past selves.
Memories are often incomplete, coming to us in fragments and sometimes, seemingly, in no particular order. They are like snapshots, dusty photos discovered in a box. Some are a little out of focus, a little fuzzy. They cause us to wonder: When did that happen? Where was that? Who was there? We worry we cannot trust what comes to mind, wonder if we have it all straight. But other memories are almost tangible in their representation of a moment. They have the power to bring us sharply, almost uncomfortably, right back into a specific time and place. Sometimes, though, it is not at all uncomfortable. Sometimes, we have the desire to linger, to hold on tightly, to stay as long as we are allowed.
Memories are powerfully connected to our world of senses….the sight of a treasured object, a park bench where you used to sit, a holiday decoration that was a perennial favorite…the feel of the crisp breeze or warm sunshine…the smell of a familiar perfume, or a beloved family recipe coming out of the oven…the sound of a song that holds special significance…Often, these experiences catch us off guard, so ordinary, yet so filled with meaning and intense unfulfilled longing that we did not know was possible. Sometimes the door of comfort is cracked open as we allow ourselves the sweetness of a presence we miss so dearly. Other times, we wince as the floodgates of pain and loss feel as though they have opened and will never close.
Memories can be painfully elusive as we can almost feel ourselves grasp into the air, trying to will the moment back into reality. How much more true this is when the memory is of a loved one who has left this earth. If I close my eyes…hear his voice…feel her hug…I can, just, almost… And then it’s gone.
Remembering can be hard. But it is so very important. The stories we tell, or the ones we keep quiet and held close, these are what begin to make up part of who we are. And it is in this process, the looking, lingering, holding on, speaking the names, giving voice to the moments of the past, that memories become a gift to be treasured. They become a way to hold on to that which has been lost. For in some small way, that which has been lost, is found. And once found, it is guarded in our very souls.