I wrote this post on my personal blog back in April of 2012, but it was ringing in my ears this week, as I was trying to remember details and was getting frustrated about the pieces I couldn’t recover.
I had a horrifying experience this week:
I couldn’t remember.
It started with a drive to meet my sister-in-law in Canada. The drive was a familiar one that I’ve taken with Jer hundreds of times through the years. Suddenly and unexpectedly, but like a familiar wave of grief, I was struck with tears realizing I would never take the drive again with him. Then I started to try and remember all the different drives I had taken with Jeremy over the years on that road. I remembered very little, which bothered me, but that wasn’t the problem.
I then started trying to think about what it felt like to hold Jeremy’s hand in the car like I had so many times before. But instead, all I could remember for that little while was holding my brother’s hand in the hospital as he slipped away from us, and the second I noticed a change in his hands and knew that he was gone. And like the wave, I was covered in tears. Tears for my brother, who I’ve been missing so much the last few days (well, ever since I saw my nephew last weekend and his resemblence to my brother was so eery and heartbreaking for me) and tears for the fact that I couldn’t get myself to remember was it was like to hold my husband’s hand.
I started to go back to all those familiar moments that I think about often. Like the night before he died – him holding my hand on the way home, telling me how much he loved to hear me sing….I tried to remember past what I normally thought about, maybe some other details I missed before and I couldn’t. Then I started to doubt the memory. It feels so distant – did that really happen? Do I actually remember it or is it just because I thought about it so many millions of times that it has become a habit instead of a memory? It was truly horrifying to feel like my memories were slipping further away from me just like Jeremy was.
Luckily, it was fleeting. Sometimes, all it takes is a picture of his jaw line or crooked smile to bring all those things back. Or a random hot day where the smell of sweat suddenly made me miss his salty kisses in the middle of the afternoon on a lunch break. Or sitting with Steve, playing with his ears, and remembering how different it felt to play with Jeremy’s. I remember with such detail praying every day that I never forget.