It’s funny what the mind remembers.
There are snippets of time we’d all like to erase from our memories. Words said in anger and words heard by our very souls that may or may not have been said. Fleeting emotions that we wish we could forget, always competing with ones to which we desperately want to cling.
We forget so much, don’t we? Memories are fickle things. Or, I suppose, the mind has an odd way of picking and choosing what stays with you and what gets tossed aside like a crumpled receipt found at the bottom of a handbag. Why does the world stop at the strangest times to leave an imprint on your conscience? Some of those memories are so clear for no particular reason. No argument. No tragedy. No outpouring of loving words you’ve been waiting to hear.
I remember standing on the sofa, looking over the pass-through into the kitchen on my third birthday. My mother was making a Mickey Mouse birthday cake, and I wasn’t supposed to be peeking. I remember the sound of my little hands, slowly tearing the wrapping paper on my Christmas presents later that year, and Mom getting impatient with me. I don’t remember being the least bit aware that she was in labor with my sister Holly, which is why she wanted me to hurry up – she needed to get to the hospital.
The sound of the empty gurney that crossed my parents’ Saltillo tile floor…and the sound of its wheels crossing back, heavy with my mother’s lifeless form, just hours after the cancer finally took her from us.
The moment I realized the man I loved was living a double life and had never intended a life with me, and my heart shattered, almost audibly. I can still hear the sound of the mirrored box I’d had engraved with our song for him, hitting the floor where I threw it, the glass breaking into what seemed like a million pieces.
I can easily recall the smell of the plastic on my new Barbie doll when I changed her into a swimsuit to take into the little blue pool on our back patio, and pretending she was a mermaid.
The feeling of the cream and gold painted wood finial on my canopy bed (with no canopy), as I held it in my hand and sang into it for my audience of dolls & stuffed animals along to the soundtrack of Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty”…Once Upon a Dream…
When my nephew Samuel was around two years old, I was in Nashville visiting my sister and her family. They lived in a mobile home, and Sam’s room was down the hall, the doorway visible from the living room sofa. Holly told Sam to pick up the toys he’d dragged into the hall, just outside his door. She kept walking, leaving him standing in a circle of his toys. I was watching him from the sofa, and he looked at his toys on the floor around his chubby little feet, dropped down onto his diapered butt and said to no one in particular, “But…. I’m not happy“.
There are times when I cannot bring to my mind the sound of my mother’s voice. It takes me longer and longer to pull it from the deep corridors of stored memory, like a hard drive searching for a document filed in an unknown location, saved almost too long ago. I feel myself beginning to panic, and feel enormous guilt wash over me like a wave that almost takes me under.
To pull myself out of that panicked guilt, I close my eyes and remember her skin. She had the softest skin. I used to press my face into the inside of her forearm. Even into adulthood, I did this out of a habit formed when I was very small. As much as I’d love to find words to describe that scent, there are none. The skin there was soft and cool to the touch, and gave me comfort to my very bones.
It’s funny what the mind remembers…