I have a horrible memory, it turns out. If I’ve seen a movie or read a book more than a year ago, I can see or read it again almost as if it were the first time. This has gone on for a while now, forgetting. I have entire periods of my life that I cannot remember. I tend to think some of that is stress management – you know, blocking out the most stressful stuff. And then again I think some of the forgetting is just plain stress related. It’s one of the reasons I keep old emails and tickets and paper trails of various little events. It helps me remember.
Lately, I find myself trying to remember all sort of things, places, people. Like my sister. Her voice. Her features. Like her freakishly round toes. Her personality, her way. Of being goofy enough to wear yellow nailpolish and get into the dirt with toddlers. And mature enough to be the most supportive and wise younger sister any big sister could hope for.
And when I try but can’t remember parts of my childhood, I sigh at the reminder. That the one person who lived it the way I did, who could remind me of all those years, whose memories I trust…is gone. It’s just a shame. That we don’t get to banter all those memories back and forth. And that I have such a crappy memory.
This is why I find myself trying to almost breathe in certain moments with James and the girls. To make those moments an actual part of me that I can’t lose. I find myself wanting to capture whatever is before me and hold onto it so tightly that I couldn’t possibly forget, couldn’t possibly lose whatever it is about a moment in time that makes it so special.
The other day I gave Ashlyn a bath. There she was in my arms, bundled in a towel, clean and cherubic, breathing noisily and grinning. I enjoyed the moment so much it hurt a little. If I could have I would have folded up the smells and the sounds and her angelic little face and tucked it into my pocket to bring out again and again.
Of course, I did the next best thing. The blog-mommy thing. I grabbed my camera and cuddled her as closely as I could while snapping away. This wasn’t the best of those pictures, but it was the true-est. The one that brings me back to that little moment instantly. I can almost smell the lavendar baby wash and hear the gurgling under her tongue.
I wish it were easier for me, remembering. Today on NPR I listened to a 21-year-old woman recall a memory from when she was six years old; she described the touch, the scene, her thoughts – as if it had happened an hour ago. I want that ability. If I can’t hang onto time, I want to be able to hang on to the memory of it.
Am I the only one who sometimes feels the sting of a precious moment because it’s about to be over?