To Remember

>> Tuesday, January 22, 2013

This morning I was sitting on the couch drinking my cup of coffee as Owen was (for once!) occupying himself on the floor in front of me, playing with his wooden crate and block set. After a couple of minutes I checked in with him, looking up and seeing him play. I smiled and said, "You having fun, baby?" and he ignored me, as he should at this age. I was filled with such a rush of overwhelming love.

I watched him match the shapes of the blocks into the holes in the crate. I watched him maneuver the top of the crate into the correct position, watched him slide the lid into place. I smiled again, blown away that just a few months ago I'd helped him figure out how to slide the lid on. See, you put the star on this side, and it goes in. He mimicked me, the star on this side, and fumbled much more than I had, until finally it slid into place, and watch it go in!
And now he was managing this feat so well.

He probably doesn't even remember that incident. The incident that I hold so dear in my memory.

And then I realized how lucky I am to be sharing these beautiful, precious moments with him. How I am blessed to be witness to his becoming himself. And right on the heels of this realization came the next, sobering one. How he is so present with me, how these moments define him, shape him, but he won't remember any of it.

And I thought of myself. I have no memory of my toddlerhood. Is it hard for my mom, to know the years she spent with me, the years that she was absolutely everything in my life, that she must remember so vividly, that I have no recollection of? She could have been sitting on her couch--just like me--enjoying a precious, special moment with me--not of, but with me, and over time it ceased to exist for me.

What do we do with memory? And where do the memories go when we can't recall them anymore?

I am that person who holds onto each memory I have, carefully and with a white-knuckled grip. When I was young, I used to compulsively record everything important to me in journals, and I have volumes of them tucked away even today. I guess I was afraid if I didn't record them, they'd vanish. If I couldn't look back and recall every detail that some day those moments would just vanish. And then what would be left?

What is my life if not a collection memories?

And what happens to those of us who succumb to dementia? Alzheimers? Who are we? Our loved ones hold the space for the person we once were, but we clearly are no longer them, as is evidenced by the deafening discomfort we experience in ourselves when being in a room a loved one who has this condition. More evidence is the number of dementia and Alzheimers patients whose family has slowly trickled away until they are all but abandoned to a nursing home or equivalent facility.

Again: who are we, what are we if not a series of remembered moments? And as our memories fade away what do we become? How do we cope with this?

I don't want my baby to not remember these cornerstone moments we've had together. I want to share them with him for years to come, laughing with him, looking tenderly over the time period that he was obsessed with The Raccoons, the time period that he called all construction machinery snorts (an ode to the book Are You My Mother), the time period he wanted me to sing to him 'the sat nam song' every night before bed.

But he won't remember. And many would tell me that it's okay. I get to keep these memories. But maybe I don't. Maybe one day they'll fade away. Maybe I won't get to have them forever. And that near-literally breaks my heart. If I couldn't remember my precious baby boy, what on earth would I do?

The grasping-at-straws idealist in me wants to succumb to/create a complex spiritual practice and belief that comforts me in this:

When I die, I'll be with all my memories. 
When we are all gone, we will all be together forever. 
Energy can't be destroyed so our molecules will linger together forever. 
I will part of I AM and thus will be part of All.

But really, who knows. And the comfort is hollow. Life is suffering. GOD is suffering. And to suffer is to hold this terrifying uncertainty to my chest.

Breathe into it, Brandy. And know that for now at least, you exist.

1 comments:

cara January 23, 2013 at 8:43 AM  

omg brandy - this was so beautiful to read. i know that every person on earth can relate to these feelings. i love how honest you can be.

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