Monday, September 13, 2010

Remembering After

Many people place emphasis on remembering the day something happens. The day a child a is born. The day we win a game. The day we lose someone we love. The day we are attacked. The day we go into battle.

We have days marked on our calendars. Days with stars. Days with sad faces. Days with happy faces. Days with black marks. Days with red marks. We have days to remember.

And these days are important. They are important to religious people. They are important to patriotic people. They are important to mothers. They are important to fathers. They should be remembered. They should be recognized. I know. And I do.

But what about after the important day happens? What then? What happens in the story of these peoples' lives? What do they remember about those days?

I remember the days after my marriage. I remember flying to my new home in a new country. I remember celebrating with the people in the plane. I remember meeting my husband's friends. I remember the extreme loneliness of starting over without friends I had cultivated. I remember learning how to cross stitch with a lady who had lupus who was much older than me. I remember being so lonely I walked through a screen door in excitement when my husband arrived home from work. I remember my husband teaching me to drive. I remember driving off in anger, after a fight, many times, only to return with a loaf of bread and a willingness to start again. I remember all the emotions. The fights. The fun. The laughter. The sorrow. The happiness. I remember all the hills and valleys of our marriage after that special day. I remember them and celebrate the years we've been together.

I remember the days after my baby was born. I remember dealing with a lactation expert, the friends who brought me food and posted signs in my yard to celebrate her homecoming. I remember people teaching me how to take a shower while my daughter watched from her little car seat in the bathroom. I remember freaking out about bread dough stuck to my countertop and desperately trying to scrape it off while my girl wailed in the living room. I remember the sheer agony of trying to leave behind my desire to be orderly and neat so I could be the mother I had to be. I remember being imperfect, flawed, scared. I remember other mothers sharing their fears. I remember the days after. They are the days that shaped my motherhood.

I remember losses. I remember many sad days. I remember the pain of dealing with all the living personalities long after we buried our loved ones. I remember anger. I remember fights. I remember good words. I remember bad words. I remember wishing the bad words had never been spoken either by me or by them. I remember hoping that time would truly heal all wounds. I remember gauzing over the pain again. I remember feeling forgiveness. I remember renewed connections. These are the memories that shape my failures, my struggle to grow from them, and my continued desire to improve as a person.

I remember the big days. The huge days that impact all of our lives. The natural disasters. The recoveries. The atrocities. The victories. I remember them all. I remember them as an individual. As a wife. As a friend. As a daughter. As a mother. I remember grieving for my nation. For the world.  I remember that it is in the days afterward that we are forging the path toward a new memory. A new beginning. A brighter future.

It is in the living. The going forward. The willingness to take risks. The capacity to forgive. The desire to forget. The hope that tomorrow will be a better day. That is why we remember. We remember so we will remember that we are able to move on.


Gwen Hernandez said...

Wow, Christine. Very moving. As a kind of corollary to this, I find that it's the not anniversary of my mother's death (or her birthday) that make me sad, it's the ordinary days when I want to share news with her that bring me to tears.

Thanks for sharing.

Christine said...

Gwen: I completely understand. I am the same way when it comes to my father. I remember when NATIONAL TREASURE came out with Nicholas Cage and turned to Chuck in tears and said, "Dad would have loved this." He was a Mason, loved puzzle movies and mysteries. It is in the ordinary events that I miss him most. I take heart in my faith that somehow he does see these moments. I believe your mom does, too.

RedPeril said...

Well that was deep and brimming with insight. Thank you. It's funny to me that just two years ago, half of that wouldn't have struck me as so familiar. It's amazing what a little extra life experience can do to shape a person.

I'm glad your memory is so keen. I think humanity has to mark dates because we seem to have such short memories; individually and, more tragically, as a collective. Marriages dissolve because people forget how their spouse once made them feel. Family is taken for granted when people forget the overwhelming joy of seeing and holding their children for the first time. Culture is lost when people forget where they came from and what was sacrificed. Faith is lost when people forget how many of their prayers have been answered.

I've always wondered if memory loss is a large part of the human condition. Perhaps we'd all be a lot better off if journaling were a societal requirement. ;)

Christine said...

RedPeril: I would love to see the fine art of journaling be a requirement. You're right. I've been considering a lot of things regarding collective memory loss. Nothing earth shattering, but little things that make a community come together. Cooking, sharing a meal, gathering at a local bar for a chat fest, nurturing relationships beyond the occasional facebook comment or twitter tweet. I've gone back to calling my friends long distance to chat, inviting people over to my home for coffee or dinner, and making more of an effort to be in the moment when I am with someone.