Do memories fade or do they really last forever? I suppose I keep hoping it’s a bit of both. The memories that evoke anxiety will go black; those that make me sad will maybe just lose their colour; and those that make me smile will stay vivid and clear. I have always had a good memory and have never been able to decide if it’s a blessing or a curse. I certainly carry a lot of useless information inside my head but it also feels like I have my entire life on a flash drive up there. I remember moments, dates, arguments, dreams and nightmares. I have a lot of happy stored inside of me. And I have a lot of pain.As I come closer to the one-year anniversary of the worst day of my life, my memories hurt more than they have before. I’m sure the obvious assumption is that the memory of my accident is plaguing me and it is, but it is not what is causing my current heartache, panic and overall feeling of helplessness. It’s the memories of before. For as long as I can remember, I have had a habit of backtracking my life by dates (it’s been a week, a month, a year since ______. Or one year ago today I was ______). But this process has become gut wrenching, especially as I look back on photos I took in the weeks leading up to March 10. It feels as though I am witnessing the last days of my own life. Like I am watching someone swimming, knowing that they are about to drown and I cannot get to them or yell to them or warn them in any way.
All I can do is watch her – me – in all of my unsuspecting happiness.
I can put myself right back to life a year ago. I remember the warmth of a very sunny February and feeling proud of myself for walking to school on those beautiful days. I can smell the scent of our boys’ bedroom freshly painted and feel the excitement of painting our bedroom next. I can feel the relief when my mother-in-law dropped off macaroni & cheese and popsicles to our sick household. I remember the anticipation of our two-week Spring Break a couple of days away – I was hoping everyone would be healthy by the time the second week came around and Ian was off work. I remember me, the way I was then.
I put myself into my memories and I want to scream at that woman who is taking her life for granted. I want to tell her what is coming but I know she can’t handle it; I know she would crumble. I want to tell her to go run outside with her kids just one more time (preferably barefoot). I want to tell her to get over her fear of bike riding (as ridiculous as that sounds) and get the bike her kids desperately want her to get. I would make sure she had sex – good sex – one more time because now it will never be the same again. I want to force her to hop out of bed next time the baby wakes in the night instead of hitting her husband because ‘it is his turn’. I want to force her because soon she won’t be able to hop up at the sound of a nightmare-fueled cry and it will almost break her. I want to tell her that there will be tears and anguish and anger but that she will be okay. She will be changed, but okay.
As brutal as remembering can sometimes be, I cannot wish a memory away. I already know what it’s like to lose something that most people take for granted and I know there are people out there aching to remember just as I ache to have my body back. But I will wish to cope. I want to be able to look back one day and see that woman for who she was without feeling frustrated and sad. I would love to smile at the memory of her and, ultimately, I would just love not to miss her so much.
We all have a life story based upon memories. Every minute of every day has the potential to become a part of our story. I’ve learned that you never know when an ordinary moment may become a memory: good or bad. I’m sure some of the memories will fade. But maybe I’m wrong and they will all last forever. I suppose it depends on the person; I suppose it depends on the memory.