04 Aug Moments and Memories
‘Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory’
– Dr Seuss
It’s strange the things that randomly pop into your head. Simple little events that didn’t seem particularly significant at the time suddenly become beautiful memories that we thought we had forgotten. They represent the essence of a life once lived and have the power to transport us to another place.
Like the time I was in work and Ben sent me this selfie message. He was unwell and obviously feeling very sorry for himself…
A reminder that we are more likely to remember MOMENTS than days!
When you lose someone you love (for me it’s my darling child) those memories are like priceless jewels. You find yourself fiercely guarding them because it seems like they’re all you have left – a bitter sweet reminder of the enormity of the person you have lost.
Memories take us back to a time in the past that can never be relived. I think most parents of adult children will agree those busy frazzled parenting years that seem to go on forever are actually over way too soon. And I would give anything to be able to go back and do it all again. I don’t know if I would do things much differently or even be a better mum but I would definitely savour the one moments more because with hindsight I now know they can abruptly end without warning. There are no guarantees in life – everything is a gift! I hope I would live each day like it was my last. I hope I’m doing that now though sadly I fear I’m not!
“Take care of all your memories for you cannot relive them”– Bob Dylan
Ben left us thirty four months ago yet it still feels like yesterday and I’m struggling to accept that he has really gone. That I’ll never see or touch him again. That he’ll never walk into the room or sit around the dinner table. That I’ll never again hear his infectious laugh or listen to his stories! No more phone calls, text messages, birthday cards, hugs… Never in a million years could I have known life would change so dramatically – that I would change beyond recognition.
I’m sure some may think that after all this time I should be back to normal. But there’s no normal to go back to – I guess you can’t really understand that unless it’s happened to you! Missing my beautiful boy hurts every minute of every day and nothing or no one could have prepared me for the impact. My understanding of life has changed and the melancholic wreck that remains is dull, uninteresting and worn out.
I fluctuate between reality and denial; laughing and crying; emotions that are erratic and unpredictable. I’m frightened by the intensity of unexpected panic attacks, nightmares that disturb my psyche and a fear that I will forget.
I don’t want to be like this.
There are so many paradoxes to grief that I don’t think I’ll ever understand. My mind is in constant turmoil – it still doesn’t really know how to grasp that my child has died. The knowledge is simply too unbelievably brutal and horrendous.
So I keep plodding on, somehow finding enough strength to get through another day – whether I want to or not! Life has the uncanny ability to carry on regardless! Time doesn’t stop for the grieving. I lean on God because I believe he sits with me amongst the broken ruins of my life – holding me even when I can’t feel anything.
A dear friend wrote me this message…
‘Hope is the absence of boundaries to feel what you have to feel – grief tainted by grief , grief coloured by joy , grief tainted by anger , grief coloured by ONE MOMENTS …’
– Gwenn Jourdren
I’m so thankful for friends who are gifted with empathy.
None of us has any idea how long we’ve got on this Earth. Ben had twenty five years, I’m in my sixties, my parents are in their eighties – yet in the vast expanse of eternity life is just a brief moment! We only get one shot at living and Ben’s legacy is to live and love without reserve.
I want to do that!
I keep asking God to make sense of all this sadness – to empower this weak broken shell (that looks a bit like me) to give something back. To find enough strength to live and love with the passion that Ben had. To keep searching for hope inside pain.
So I give myself permission to be saturated in beautiful memories. I try to superimpose happy images over the unimaginable and indescribable flashbacks of hugging my darling lifeless child (a helpful tip from my traumatic grief therapist).
And I let myself drift backwards for a moment of blissful reprieve…
I’m remembering a teenage Ben and his friends hanging out in our garden. I can still hear the beautiful sound of them laughing and just enjoying life.
Their craze at the time was long boarding and I used to listen to Ben’s very long and animated descriptions of how to skate around corners as fast as possible, without hurting yourself. I learnt that you have to put one hand to the ground to steady yourself as you slide round a bend. For obvious reasons your hand should be protected and this memory is all about Ben making sliding gloves!
The joys of being a teenager and thinking you’re invincible!
Ben was always so enthusiastic about everything. He saw life as one big opportunity just waiting to be discovered. I’m just so glad he packed so much into his twenty five years.
So with very little persuasion he cajoled me into driving him to IKEA on more than one occasion to buy plastic chopping boards. These had to be cut and melted with a blow torch before they could be moulded onto a heavy duty gardening glove. The finished result was the budget version of a ‘sliding glove!!’ Those with money simply bought the real thing but I’ve no doubt part of the fun was actually making your own – despite the inevitable injuries! I admired their creativity and resourcefulness though I’m still not sure if I was a good mum or a bad mum for going along with it!!
It’s so true that we don’t know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. Life is full of moments like these yet too often we just let them slip by without fully appreciating them.
If only there was an automatic recording button in our heads that would allow us to hit replay at any time. The problem with memories is that without visual images the clarity starts to distort and fade – that terrifies me.
But they’re my reminder to try and keep living life with the energy that Ben had. His enthusiasm and zest for life was enviable. He made every moment count and on my better days I endeavour to do the same!! Life for us didn’t end when Ben died (even though I wanted it to). I need to remember that we get to make more beautiful new memories and it’s up to us to make sure he’s part of them. We keep talking about him and doing the things he loved. We take him with us everywhere we go and discretely leave a little sticker on special places.
And so our beautiful family keeps on growing. They are all awesome and I see a little bit of Ben in each and every one. I don’t have words to describe the abundance of love I feel yet there are days the sadness and pain is so overwhelming it literally obliterates joy and I feel like I’m losing my mind all over again. Darkness eclipses light. I can’t see beyond what I have lost and today’s blessings are simply swamped by the deepest anguish.
I used to feel guilty about this but I’m starting to accept that this is just how grief works. All these agonising feelings are intrinsically woven into living. It’s ok to feel sad and it’s ok to have bad days (terrible days) – it’s part of a process of learning to live in a new kind of way…
celebrating and giving thanks for what I HAVE – not for what I hoped for.
Missing Ben is just how it is. It’s not going to go away and is most tangible when the family are all together. The gap is bigger – the huge hole accentuated – his absence like a blanket spread over everything. He is integral to our world and when one significant person is missing, it’s disconcerting. Just wrong!
We all feel it and we’re all broken …
we lost a brother – a best friend – an uncle – a child
“Where is strength found?
Not only in the highs
But neither only
In the lows.
It is found in the grasslands
And the wastelands
And the footpaths
In between them
In your laments
And the quiet hours
In these places
Unexpected.”– Morgan Harper Nichols