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In a couple of days it will be my Mom’s birthday. She passed away one year and nine months ago. This would be her second birthday anniversary in heaven. Time is very strange, sometimes a minute seems like forever and sometimes forever passes in the blink of an eye.
As time goes on my memories take over the past. The memories come depending on the kind of mood I am in. If I’m feeling low, sad memories creep in, if I’m feeling well, ordinary memories surface, if I’m feeling happy, the best memories burst forth.
Memories are an automatic, continuous part of life. They could be memories of the distant past or of just yesterday, but the current moment rarely stands stark on its own, it is crowded in by many different memories of people, incidents or feelings. The strongest memories are those of feelings. How such an incident or person made you feel.
With time I find that my memories are distorted by my feelings. I might not remember exactly what happened, or exactly what was said, but I most certainly remember how I felt at the time. The stronger the feeling, the more clear the memory of it. It might not be a totally exact memory in its details, but the feelings I had at the time would be crystal clear.
We tend to romanticise our fond memories. If love is present we forget the bad and remember only the good. This is probably a self preserving defence mechanism.
The difference between our memories and reality usually comes as a shock when we are confronted by an old picture of ourselves or our loved ones, or after a long absence we re-visit an old school or house we had known in our childhood. The difference is in our feelings, how we felt then and how we feel now.
Memories can be a source of pain or joy, but their loss is a great tragedy. Memories are an essential part of one’s integral being, and that is why Alzheimer’s disease is so tragic and devastating to those around the patient. They see the essential being they love slowly dying inch by inch through the relentless loss of memory.
Good memories though could be the mainstay of certain lives. The memory of happiness can sustain a person through years after its loss. The memory of love can warm a soul years after it is gone. The memory of joy can reinstate itself to pick us up and transport us into a better mood.
Without memories we turn into a clean slate. No past, no character quirks, no likes or dislikes, no history, no people, no experience, nothing, just a blank, clean, white slate, a kind of living death. No matter how much we rile against our memories, we should cherish them, for they are what we essentially are. The good and the bad memories are what made us who we are today, and only through them can we decide how we want to go forward and who we want to be. Despite what we might think about certain painful memories, yet having those memories is a true blessing.
1 December 2015

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