My alcohol addled brain has forgotten entire chunks of my past. The blackouts. That’s incredibly hard for me to reconcile, even though I know there’s no getting it back. I can only focus on now and going forward and trying to soak it all in and capture.
I worry about the forgetting.
Even now with years of sobriety, my brain is still not great at remembering. My husband gets frustrated because he thinks I don’t listen, and while yes I can be better at that with him, some of it is simply that I hear it, but then forget quickly. I send myself emails and write on stickies and make calendar reminders for everything. I am good at my job, which is coordinating lots of people and logistics, because I can write it all down and send reminders to myself and others. But the feelings cannot be sent.
The things we need to capture cannot be entirely contained by a photo or even a video, not by words written down or drawings kept. But they can help at conjuring those feelings. They are evocative. Feelings cannot be conjured up exactly ever again, but we can try to keep them locked away somewhere. Tucked away for a time when you need to unlock that feeling most.
When I was in theatre school they taught us the technique of recalling memories as a way to express emotion through a scene. To go to a sad memory to evoke tears or thinking of something funny as a way to genuinely laugh while participating in a moment on stage.
As I’m going about my day lately, I have the very conscious aware thought – don’t forget this.
The way he looks at me when he is trying to make me laugh. That look in his eye and that wry smile creeping on his face that he doesn’t want me to see yet. But I always see it and that makes us laugh even more.
The sound of her high high voice when she’s singing the mama dada song.
The way she leans in and yells that toddler yell that she thinks is just speaking voice level, “WAN GO DOWNSTAIRS?”
The way they continually pat each other on the back or lean in for a hug or kiss just because.
The Dida voice. The voice of the trucks and all the guys. He’s doing voices for all his things because his daddy does voices and they are pretty good already.
Their Daddy. My incredibly big and wide love for him. So much more so now than ever. The way he loves them so entirely. The way we are partners now in every sense of that word. The way he makes me laugh.
Hide and Seek. Except that in this tender moment, they don’t yet understand how to hide. So they just kind of pose and look at you smiling and you have to pretend you don’t see them and then you “find them” and the room erupts and it’s entirely delicious.
“I’m gonna be a choo choo guy when I grow up!”
He has to push down on his penis to pee doesn’t go everywhere so naturally she pushes down on her vagina too.
When they fell in love with Dora and Boots. While they watch we start out apart and then somebody climbs over onto me from the other couch. Then they’re both here. On me. The heavy delicious weight of them on me. Climbing and crashing and cuddling. The weight of them.
Don’t forget this.
“Where’s the potty house mama?”
“There’s no bathroom at this park, Bub. We are gonna have to squat by the tree.”
I told them not to sit in bird poop on the bench and she said “IT’S SO CUTE” Cute doesn’t mean what she thinks it means but it’s too cute to discourage her.
The narration of an entire walk from start to finish by little curious voices and all you learn as you take small steps. Sometimes more quickly than others and oftentimes accompanied by cuts and scrapes to tell the stories of all we learned that walk.
You feel the wind wisp past whispering, don’t forget this.
Her entirely sweet leaning in and whispering “me want my paci mama” when it’s nearing bedtime or she’s feeling vulnerable.
“WANT TO PLAY BEEBOOPS WIF ME?” Yes, my boy, we will always always always want to play beeboops with you.
Their incredible respect-filled love affair with Nikki.
“No work glasses! No Yipstick! No work today mama!”
“Me want to go wing mama. You push me on wing mama? Me want to go HIGH HIGH HIGH.”
They way she wants you to go in the bathroom with her and sit on the ground and look at her face while she uses the potty. As she does, an enormous proud grin spreads across her face and she celebrates and she wants to celebrate with you and you think, this is the best party I’ve ever been invited to.
The new shape of their still tiny bodies in underpants without diapers.
They way they remember their grandparents and talk about them in a real conversational way. It’s like a present wrapped up in a glittery bow.
How he pulls my hair out to the side when it’s down so it’s in line and spread out and says “it’s a rainbow wif light a pretty Katy rainbow” then smiles that chicklet smile that he knows I can’t resist.
How we have far more good days than bad ones these days. How on bad days it’s just a grateful reflection on how rarely that actually happens anymore. Have I mentioned the first year? I think we are still traumatized.
How they talk like an old married couple when we aren’t there –
“I can’t find my Dida.”
“It’s right there Bebe. Look.”
“Right there. Silly Bebe.”
Stroller walks in the early morning before anybody else is up. Just the three of us. Though they are plentiful now, I know they are precious and few. Sad already. Quiet. Reflecting. How I love where we live. It’s like Stars Hollow when you glance at the right moment.
Don’t forget this.
The bounce parties on our bed.
How we miss Eliza.
The way they get sad changing out of their favorite clothes, mourning them taking the long journey to the laundry basket only to forget the next day when it happens all over again.
Walking into their room in the morning to two smiling groggy filled with sweet sleep faces saying “G’ MORNING MAMA G’MORNING SUNSHINE”.
The way they stop to talk to every animal, mineral and vegetable we see with kindness and compassion, collecting treasures everywhere we go for me to keep in my pocket. And I will too. Until we get to the door.
They way they are thoughtful about questions you ask them and really think about what you are saying. This is quite heady as a first experience. They believe you. They believe IN you. You are their google.
How running through sprinklers in the neighborhood on a walk can be just as much fun as an expensive pool pass.
Don’t forget this.
I worry about the forgetting. I worry about dementia and alzheimer’s and chunks of my memories disappearing as I’ve seen it happen far too often with older people. It is cruel and indiscriminate. Much like alcoholism. But I can’t spend my time worrying about that. I can only do my best to flex my memory muscles and try to keep them close. The kids. The family. Everyone important to me. I am holding on so tight. The memories. The happy and the sad. The growth and the falling down.
This living in the moment business is not easy, because it can be easy to go back or look forward. As I continue to train my brain and my heart to be present, I have everything I could ever need right here with me.
Don’t forget this.
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