Friday, July 16, 2010

Wanted: Pensieve

Ed and I were just sitting here, with Bess in our laps, thinking about Hudson. Bess lazily opened her mouth and absentmindedly licked the remote control, which was also sitting in my lap. After the appropriate scolding, Ed picked it up, put it up to his ear and said, “Hudson used to answer the remote.” And she did. And I had forgotten about it.

How many more things am I in danger of forgetting? I only got 17 months’ worth of memories, so I’m pretty desperate to hold on to all of them because I don’t get anymore. But I already find sometimes when I sit and try to think about things we used to do together, things she used to do, the memories seem to be starting to elude me. I can remember things like our rituals easily because we did them every day, in the exact same order. I saw them all the time in real life, so I can easily see them over and over in my mind’s eye. But I so fear losing these quirky little things. Like how Hudson would answer the remote. Or how when we were downstairs in the basement doing laundry together, she would climb in and out of her far-too-small-for-her-anymore bouncy seat to entertain herself. Or how one time she managed to put three pairs of my underwear over her head before I even realized she was into the clothes. Or how she used to pull all the cookbooks off of the bottom two shelves of the bookshelf in the kitchen and rifle through them like she was looking for the perfect recipe. Or how she loved to crawl into Bess’s bed even though she knew we didn’t like it (my plan had been to get her a bean bag chair soon, but I never got the chance).

In the week after she died, Ed and I made a long list of all the words Hudson could say when she died. I just went and looked at it and am already feeling so grateful that we made it. I’d already forgotten that she knew some of them. I can still remember how her little voice sounded saying them, but I am terrified that I will forget that, too. (I had 26 years with my mom—she died eight years ago, and many days, I struggle to remember how her voice sounded). Already I fear that the way my mind is recreating them doesn’t sound right.

Even worse, right now the memories I can most easily call to mind are the ones I most want to forget: the images of her in the four days between early Monday morning and late Thursday evening. These images are so awful (to me, at least) that I don’t even want to share them here, although I’ve dumped them onto paper elsewhere, in hopes that they might someday leave me.

So I told Jess today that what I really need is a pensieve (forgive me if you are not a Harry Potter fan). But I want it not just to siphon out and save all the memories that I want to keep, but also to siphon out all these terrible memories and let me be rid of them. If I could just get rid of them, maybe I would be sure to have enough room for all the good ones.


  1. We are at a year tomorrow of E going into the hospital, and exactly 1 year + 2 weeks away from her homecoming. I promise you that the memories of those terrible images do fade. I know that we have distractions and things to replace them with, so it's not symmetry. But they fade into a proper perspective. And the strong memories of that gorgeous little smile, the feel of her hand in yours and all the other little special things will remain. I really trust that those moments will come to you when you need them.

  2. I suspect that even some of the good things you think you've forgotten are still there, ready to emerge for you at the right time. All of your posts attest to the incredible memories you have and they will remain.

  3. I only have one good memory of my father, mainly because I rarely saw him. You would think he would be a blur, but he isn't. He died when I was in the 10th grade. That one good memory sustains me when I long for the father I never had. Even the smallest moment of love remains. Renee P.

  4. We’ve discussed this before and, as you know, I'm so terrified of losing my memories. I'm scared I will forget things and then my loved one will be forgotten if I can’t pass the memories on.

    When my grandfather was dying, I remember making him tell me his favorite stories over and over. I never tied of them and had heard them hundreds of time. But, I was committing them to memory - afraid I would forget something important in his life and not be able to pass it on.

    I went on a cruise in Florida this year after Greg got out. As I was driving to Florida, I saw a rainbow and I vividly remembered that my dad used to drive me around on command trying to find the rainbow's end. It was a game we played. I cried with joy that I remembered that after all these years. But I cried with sadness too. I had forgotten. In my adult life, I had forgotten this completely and I wondered how could this be? I drove the remaining 5 hours to Florida trying to figure it out. And, I finally did. What I learned from the rainbow is that I never forgot – I just needed to see a rainbow to remember.

    In many ways, this blog is your pensieve. Agreed that it isn't perfect - it doesn't siphon out the bad memories - how I wish it could too. But, it does save your memories. And years from now when you read these pages, you will be able to recall each Hudson memory with clarity. Memories that you may not be able to recall in your daily life, but memories that will become so vivid you will wonder where they have been. It is your rainbow for all memories.