Monday, February 27, 2012

The memory of you.

Now, when I remember spring,
And all the joy that love can bring.
I will be remembering
The shadow of your smile......

Memories. Some say that it is the glue that makes up our whole entire lives. I know that we all have good ones and bad ones, happy and sad ones.  Memories that make us blush, make us smile and laugh out loud, make us fearful and some that even make us weep at night.  And we cannot avoid them or always keep them at bay.  They seem to have a life of their own.

I was caught up in my own memories recently.  We are moving. A big move; all the way across the country. And one would seem to think that my memories are fond ones that I have had of my life here in New England and the heartbreak of leaving it all behind.

But the move isn't inspiring those types of memories.  Those will come later, long after the ties have been severed.  The memories that my move are evoking live much, much closer to my heart.

Sorting through the stuff that makes up your life can really stop you cold in your tracks. Many do not want to move for that very reason.  Dredging up the past like that is daunting. I understand all of that now.

Going through all those memories reminded me of how much I miss so many people. I do. I just wish I could  have coffee with my mom again. To sit in that comfortable spot right next to the window and chat just like we used to. I miss her so much. There is so much to tell her. And my dad, too. We used to have lunch every week. I miss that. Time does not heal that or make me want it less. It just doesn't.

Funny, too, how we try to hold onto certain memories in odd ways without really knowing that we do it. For example, I had a lovely uncle named Joe.  He was my mother's youngest brother. He was always in our lives growing up.  A second father. A great man. He died way too young from a horrible cancer at age 62. He left us all bereft.

In his living room, he always had this big exercise bike. I would go to his house and sit on it and pedal it slowly all the while telling him about my latest youthful misadventure.  And he always sat there listening gently and offering his support.  God, how I loved him. 

So, after he died, I took the bike. I never really used it.  It mostly sat in the basement. I never used it as any type of shrine and quite honesty, I never paid much attention to it at all. Until now. Now, I had to decide what to purge for the move. And this was hard for me. To get rid of that bike. Somehow, it connected me to a past that I never wanted to see end. I struggled.  But I knew it had to go.

I finally put an ad on Craigslist and said it would be free to a good home. Instantly, my email filled up with dozens of messages. I was stunned. I finally gave it to a nice man in another town who came to pick it up the other day. He just walked in and took my memory. I even called out, "Goodbye bike." It was rather pitiful, if I do say so myself. Then I went to bed and cried.

I didn't cry for the bike. Good grief, my uncle would be laughing at me for even keeping it this long.  I cried because I miss him.  I really just miss him. His death left a hole in my heart that no one can ever fill.  And sometimes having things that we can touch, no matter how silly it may seem, allows us to still be with someone long gone. Foolish I know. But real none the less.

I think that is what is wrong with many of us, especially as we start to lose people to death or to moves or to changes in schools or workplaces. A piece of us stays back there. We miss who we were back then. But we don't grieve. We just merely soldier on and pretend it all doesn't matter.

And then one day we let go of something small, or hear a song or see a face that reminds us.  And we are filled with a melancholy, a feeling of sorrow, a sadness that envelopes us that we may not be able to understand. And we don't know what to do. So we fill up the hole with distractions, or medications or exercise or even prayer.  And we get through it somehow. We have no other choice.

So, the memories stay with me.  Many I have packed up for the long journey to our new home.  They are part of who I am and without them I would certainly be a different me, I know that. 

Some say that memories of those no longer here comfort you.  That you can "let go" and have closure and feel better just for having known them and blah, blah, blah.  I don't know.  I think that is just crap. I think that it is okay to miss people we love.  I think you never, ever really get over losing a piece of your life. And I think that it is okay to visit it once in awhile and allow yourself to grieve for the loss. And I further believe if we did more of that then anti-depressants wouldn't be the most prescribed drug in the market today. But, I digress.

So, let yourself grieve. Even over something as stupid as an exercise bike.

That bike. That damn, stupid wonderful old bike. Gone now. Off to a new life.

Just like me.

And just like you, Uncle Joe. And mom and dad and all the others.

God, I miss you.

Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night.  I miss you like hell. 
~Edna St Vincent Millay

Memory... is the diary that we all carry about with us.
~Oscar Wilde, "The Importance of Being Earnest"

When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
~Khalil Gibran


  1. Sweet and real. I love your blog.

  2. Janice, I too wish you could sit down and have that cup of coffee with your mom once again. Or share your thoughts with Uncle Joe. My life has been fortunate so far in that I haven't lost anyone close to me. Surely I won't take it well. The grief is understandable.

    The move has to be difficult but it sounds like you are committed to positivity and new beginnings. I look forward to reading your new adventures as you spread your wings with your own family by your side : )


  3. Sharon, I will always be in touch with all things New England by your beautiful blog.

  4. Hi, Janice
    I have only recently discovered your blog via a posting you made in response to a NY Times editorial. As an aside, my wife is currently in nursing school here in Seattle, and is a hospice volunteer.
    Wanted to simply respond to your thoughts on moving and memories. I was born, raised and lived in Atlanta for 40 years. I didn't want live in the same city all my life so my wife (who is a military brat for the former USSR and used to moving)and I decided to move cross country here to the Seattle area. Everything just seemed to work out. But we only brought was we could bring in two cars. We purged and gave away a lot of items and left a few keepsakes with my parents. Despite memories, it is amazing how liberated you feel in such a purging. You realize how little really one needs and that your home is not all the items we can't seem to find enough storage for.
    Of course, we miss my parents (in their 80's) and friends, but the move was a blessing to us.
    Good luck on your move cross country and I hope you feel some of the liberation we felt and enjoy new landscapes and new friends.