I walk through a forgotten scent or the notes from a long-ago song, and memories surface the way hunks of ice in a glass swim closer to the top as they melt. Mining memories is a tricky business – use a pickaxe and they’ll become puffs of smoke leaving behind only happiness or grief.
Waiting for memories to swim to the surface on their own is the only way.
And so I wait.
It was crowded downtown DC Friday morning. People going to work, walking kids to school, a woman playing Pokemon Go stopped in the middle of the sidewalk as she added a cartoon character to her library of phone-bound warriors. It was then that a face unseen left behind a scent that grabbed me and pulled me into life many years ago.
I forget why his loving me was so important back then. Why I felt as if his seeing me would enable me to see myself.
I remember his hands though. They were unbelievably sexy and sure. The hands of somebody Who Knew Things.
Except, he didn’t. Know anything, that is.
He didn’t know that keeping me on a shelf wasn’t an option although I allowed him to do so for much too long.
I’d forgotten about his hands but remember the night at Lake Tahoe and the magic we found and made there. Standing on a balcony, 16 floors up, thinking about how regular hotels don’t have windows that open more than an inch or two. Marveling at how this fancy hotel trusted people to not jump.
I don’t think I thought about pushing him, but I may have.
“I’m scared,” he said. “Stay here for 24 hours or until it’s light again.” My son, last night, reminded me of the night I’d lain in bed with him whispering “remember this” to myself. I didn’t want to forget small-him or the peace of letting the undone things remain undone to pull him closer. To sniff his hair and marvel at the perfection of a young boy’s cheek in the shadows of a nightlight.
I think about how sad I was the night he told me to leave. Also, how happy I was, because it felt like a milestone finally met. One met much earlier by his peers.
How I grieved through relief.
“Mommy, what’s your weapon in Terraria?” he said.
Crap. Really? “Um, I don’t know,” I said. “Which one is the most powerful?”
As he rambled on and a work spreadsheet started dancing the jig on my laptop while laughing, I rubbed the tip of my nose. The stressed-out place below my brows.
“Can you please just give me 10 minutes?” I said.
I looked up. His tiny face, once much tinier, defeated. I gave the spreadsheet my middle finger, closed my laptop, and said “show me.”
“Show me Terraria.”
And what a gift. This not-so-little little boy of mine showed me how he’d mined a place for his science room, how he’d made a bed using cobwebs and wood, and how you could build a tower to heaven.
I’d forgotten that once, all of my prayers and wishes sent to stars contained “please,” and “talk.” “Please let him speak. Please say ‘Mommy’ one day.”
Our memories are often sprinkled with nostalgia dust, and maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be. What woman would have another child if she remembered each tear and contraction from the one she’d birthed before? What human would open himself to the possibility of butterflies and passion if she still felt the tears and anger of previous betrayals?
What mother would dare to hope for a baby after losing one? Who, indeed.
And so we carry on finding the magic and the memories in the forgotten mess of life and laundry.
Special needs mamas continue to delete emails about milestones and focus instead on the gift. Some days, we may even forget that we’re special needs mamas, carried to a balcony far away, sent from the scent of somebody we passed on a sidewalk.
We may wonder about that person, and the family he goes home to. What his kids are asking him to do that makes a spreadsheet dance the jig on his laptop. Whether he gives it the finger or dives into his work pool that has no bottom.
Maybe, tonight, we whisper “remember this,” knowing that it’s all too soon gone. Maybe, we think about creating a land of empathy and wonder for our kids while we try to not mourn the moments as they happen, knowing that this time is a gift although sometimes, some moments feel as if they will never pass.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “The things I’ve forgotten…” and your hosts are:
Yours truly, Kristi, from Finding Ninee and this week’s sentence-thinker-upper, Hillary Savoie of HillarySavoie.com. She’s also the heart and mind behind The Cute Syndrome. Check her out. You won’t regret it.