The persistence of memory.


When I was young I wished for a photogenic memory

I was convinced that if I practiced enough, was observant enough, disciplined enough I could remember every detail of every thing I read, saw, experienced.

my parents were creeped out when I could remember conversations word for word after six months…..or a year.

but they capitalized this and memorizing “yeah though I travel through the valley of the shadow of death, I will honor my father and mother and forgive me my debts” earned a banana split from the local DQ

In sixth grade my science fair project was Short-term Memory requisition:

I tested every girl and boy in my science class to see who remembers what better: boys or girls

Do boys retain the images of footballs and girls, babies?

I do not remember my findings.

We moved that summer and I experienced loss for the first time.

A house that still haunts my dreams.                                                                                           A boy who said he’d marry me behind a barn.                                                                  The best friend crying as she stood in the driveway.

And suddenly it was personal.

I began observing desperately. Searching for how to hold onto people and places I loved once they were gone.

And teenage years bred a perceptive intuition regarding loss and when it was coming.

And so, I remember the purr of Cat that slept with me every night.

I remember the leaves and the scuffs on Billy March’s Pumas from the day we sat and held hands for 4 hours not wanting to let go knowing it would never work.

I remember the paisley pillowcases, the freckles on “A”’s back,  knowing the end was there. Right there and still begging Jesus to let me keep him.

I remember,
what it felt like to be given flowers for the first time.

Later, I remember every tumble my boy took as he grew in my womb                        his screaming cholicy cries

the hands of an orderly who held me tight to keep me from shaking as a needle the length of my arms was inserted into my spine.

and sweet tender baby girl  moments

and the ecstasies that created them

and joy and pain and 3,455,726, 271 moments of motherhood and wifedom

and last year when grandma died I closed my eyes and sat silent and allowed the memory of her gusty laugh wash over my soul.

And now friend.

with another inevitable goodbye

my observation becomes desperate

I know how this works.

what will remain of you once you are gone.

your eyes?

your smile?

your furrowed brow when you are thinking or holding on so desperately to emotion.

no. it will be your words.and your cadence

and words will never leave me

your vocabulary will come from the voice of another and i will be transplanted to this place

seeing your face, hearing your voice and wondering

what did

I

leave you?

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