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006: ON MEMORIES & THAT THING I CAN’T REMEMBER
Love, Dad, is a real-life series of ongoing letters to my children. While these letters are intended to be read by them later in life, I feel that many of us — parents and non-parents alike — connect with the stories and moments that forever bond us to those whom we love.
In this week’s letter I discuss memories and how my Son has brought back endless memories of my childhood by asking one simple question. I then juxtapose those memories against a recent difficult time and how my memory has let go of certain stories while elevating those with more joy.
Memories can be funny little things. For weeks you’ve been asking to hear stories about when I was little like you. Because of that question (“tell me stories about when you were little”) you’ve unlocked hundreds of memories and stories I haven’t thought about in years.
Each of these memories has been a happy memory for me. Memories about sledding down the hill next to St. Patricks during recess. Memories about visiting Air Force bases with Granny and Papa, along with the countless museums and planes we saw along the way. Memories about going to Space Camp and what the habitat was like and how much I loved the flight and EVA simulators.
And now knowing you want to hear more stories about when I was little, I’ve been recollecting during the day so I always have a new story at the ready for you.
Today as I sat rocking your sister to sleep, my mind began to drift to stories, but not stories from when I was little, but instead to stories from now; from the months leading up to your sister’s birth. It was at this point that I realized that memories are, in fact, funny little things.
The journey to get your sister here was, to say the least, stressful for us. For the better part of a year we struggled with loss and tremendous uncertainty. And then one day we learned your sister was busily growing in your mama’s tummy.
The 10 week mark was our first obstacle, and we felt that if we could clear that first hurdle that we’d be in the clear for the rest of the pregnancy.
10 week checkup: all clear. Phew!
For a brief period of time we breathed (relatively) easily. But one day, out of the blue, we learned of a complication. It was then that we brought an unwanted guest into our lives and our home for the next 5 months.
This guest was faceless. It was shapeless. Its presence was felt everywhere. Its threat was real. For months we whispered about it to one another, while simultaneously avoiding it at every turn. Gradually, though, we became more comfortable with this guest as we slowly came to terms with our lack of control or influence over it.
This guest was here to stay until the bitter end and there was nothing we could do about it.
So, we waited. And one day, the day your sister arrived, the unwanted guest left, evaporating and disappearing as quickly as it had arrived. The uncertainty and the potential for loss of life ended.
And so I sat today, rocking your sister and admiring her, when it dawned on me that I couldn’t (and still can’t) remember the name of that unwanted guest. I said its name hundreds of times in those few months, yet I have no recollection of what it is today.
The beauty is that I can recall so many of the happy times from her pregnancy, though. I remember you hugging and kissing your mama’s belly every night before bed. I remember hearing her heartbeat for the first time. I remember working in her nursery while you helped paint a smiley face on the wall for her.
But that guest? I remember nothing more than the feeling of its presence among us.
That, my son, is why I say memories are funny little things.
Written August 18, 2022