Each day, each moment creates new memories. Some stay with us for only a short time and others last through all the years to come. Though I have a whole life still ahead of me, I know that I will always remember these moments.
I will never forget the countless conversations my mum and I had at our dinning room table when I was in high school. We talked about anything and everything. Together we mused about the big questions, discussed the small details, rehashed the past, tried to guess the future. We explored our similarities; our differences; the things that make us individuals, yet connected to each other.
I will never forget that phone call that stole away my strength and the way Mum said my name over and over again, making her panicked face visible if only in my mind’s eye. H was dead. Gone. I’ll never forget the way that industrial carpet, worn and faded, felt under my hands and knees as I struggled to reply but could only whimper. My whole body shook after I dropped the phone and my roommate found me in the hallway. I’ll never forget that she carried me back to our dorm room until Mum arrived.
I will never forget the first night A and I spent together, sitting on the plastic bench on that porch in Tanzania. We talked about our families, our friends, our lives. I’ll never forget that warm night air, like a blanket on a cold afternoon. It hummed with bugs unseen and the stars above us felt so far away. Everyone had gone to bed by the time we first touched, comparing our hand sizes. I realized for the first time that my pinkies are abnormally short and A loved that. I’ll never forget how warm, how strong his hands were and wishing that my boyfriend back home would break up with me so I could follow what my heart was saying.
I’ll never forget going to Da and Jacque’s house for dinner and movies during long winter nights when I couldn’t study another minute and needed a happy distraction. We always ate too much, eating even when we felt like we might pop because everything was so decadent. Jacque would buy Moscato just for me, and we would drink it together, with Bubby and Jenna, until we were all flushed and laughing ourselves to the floor. I’ll never forget feeling so loved, so safe and the happy escape that their house always gave me.
I’ll never forget those long hours when D worked down in the theater shop and M and I would bring him chocolate and snoop on his latest project. He always let as see the newest set for the latest play and explained any interesting parts of the design. The three of us could talk and joke about anything. We ate the Dove chocolates M and I had filled our pockets with, then we’d read the promises out loud. M and I later taped the promised we like best to our doors. I’ll never forget the joy in simply being with them.
I’ll never forget the morning little K came to wake me up after Da and Jacque went to Cheyenne for the day. It was the day we spent together, just the two of us. He climbed into the sleeping bag with me, whispering ever so quietly in my ear, “Auntie, it’s time to get up.”. His little cold fingers touched my eyelids, willing them to open. And up I got, though it was only 6:30 am and we watched cartoons until I knew the coffee shop would be open. I’ll never forget the way he looked at my shoes before we got in the car and said, “Auntie, I like your shoes. Did you get them at T.J. Maxx?”.
Some memories are like shadows, dark and obscured by age. Other are so clear that they are the murals painted on the walls of my mind. There are some things in this life that I will always remember, and though some are sad, I would never want to forget them. These memories are the stepping stones to who I am today, they are the signs that I have lived and loved. They are who I am in essence and the lessons I carry with me.
I’ll always remember that Mum gave me all the time I needed, her ears for listening and her voice for quieting my worries. If she ever wanted to be somewhere else, I never would have known.
I’ll always remember that even when life is painful, difficult, it is not the end. It is the beginning of a new chapter, a new path to travel. Strength can be born from grief, if you remember to reach out to those around you.
I’ll always remember that waiting for others to make things happen when you are perfectly capable of doing so is absurd. Though it can be hard and fill you with a sense of guilt or anxiety, it is ok to make choices that lead to happiness.
I’ll always remember that love and thought can be shown in so many ways that seeing it at first is impossible. It is only with time and distance that such deep care can be understood.
I’ll always remember that good friends and chocolate simplify the complexities of life. Without them, living becomes such a tangled web that it is easy to loose your way.
I’ll always remember that unplanned situations can be blessings in disguise. We just have to give them a chance to bloom.
Last, I’ll always remember that memories are my stories. They make my life bright. In order to fill the pages of my life with color and light, I must live. I will always remember, there is a difference between existing and living. And, that difference makes all the difference in the world.