Tuesday, July 29, 2008

taking care of our memories

I was driving home from the airport on Saturday night and a Christian radio station was having a “Christmas in July” marathon – all Christmas music, all weekend. I thought the premise was a little silly and snickered as I reached over my Garmin (which was telling me that it was 97 degrees at 8 o’clock at night – don’t tell my husband but you wonder why I sometimes miss Alaska?) to change the channel. Just at that moment, I heard the first few notes of a song…

Bing Crosby singing Silent Night.

In an instant I was transported back 25+ years to Christmas Eve in my parents' living room with the lights dimmed and the Christmas tree twinkling against the window and my brother in his Star Wars pajamas as we sipped hot cocoa and opened one present each and this song played on the record player next to my dad’s chair. Then again back 15 years in that same living room as a young adult home from college putting up decorations as this song played gently as the backdrop of our laughter and storytelling. Then again just a few years ago in my own living room, sitting with a glass of wine and a fire in the fireplace, listening to this CD and aching for my husband who was off at war. All of this from a single song on a car radio on a Saturday evening in July.

You hear people say all the time that a song or a scent or a photo brings back a flood of memories – but as I get older I wonder if I shouldn’t be taking better care of those memories. Do I leave them to chance? Hoping that the next time I hear that song those same memories will come back to me? Or do I write them down…maybe on a piece of paper that I stick in that CD? I hear so often from scrappers that they hate to journal – or that they reserve it for “special” events…once in a lifetime moments that they need to capture in words because the pictures aren’t enough. But I believe that these everyday memories – these little snippets of our past – should be treasured even more, because these are the memories that our soul has chosen to hold on to and tuck away, ready to pop out and comfort or surprise you just when you need it – like in your car on a Saturday evening in July.

But once in a lifetime moments ain’t too shabby either. When we moved back to Georgia one of the first friends I made was Shealyn Cyr. I’m not exactly sure how it happened…as women do we met at a wives’ coffee on post and 15 minutes later were in a corner talking about our fertility issues and sharing our deepest feelings of heartbreak and loss. That encounter and shared struggle turned in to a friendship, which turned in to keeping each other company when the guys were gone, hanging out at block parties, meeting once a week for the greatest sushi on the planet, until one day she called me…

and said she was pregnant.

I have since said that it is a moment I will never forget. I will never forget the sound of her voice or what I was doing or grinning from ear to ear when I got off the phone or driving like a bat out of hell to get to her house or sitting around staring at each other in shock or seeing the PILE of pregnancy tests on her dining room table or deciding to go out for sushi anyway and standing in the parking lot trying to decide if she could still eat raw tuna. Or driving home and having my feelings about my own fertility completely blindside me and take my breath away. Or the fact that her pregnancy is an honest-to-goodness, bona-fide, Grade A, prayers answered miracle and I am blessed to have a front row seat to the whole amazing, incredible shebang.

NOW – of course, I will never forget it because I have put it out here for the entire planet to see. But how many moments like this have I forgotten? Or only vaguely remember? Moments that meant so much to me at the time, but I need this little ol’ brain to remember to get Triscuits at the store, or that my car keys are underneath a pile of papers on the dining room table – how can I expect it to also hold a lifetime of memories?

Shea knows (obviously) what I do for a living…and she has given me all the standard reasons for why she won’t scrapbook – doesn’t have the time, doesn’t think she is crafty enough (puh-leeze) – but I couldn’t care less. :) What I want for Shea – what I want for all of us – is a place (whether it is a scrapbook or a journal or a pile of scribbled-on index cards in a box in the closet) where we can take care of these memories. Man or woman, old or young, we need a place where we can turn to our memories when we need a good laugh, or a good cry, a chance to remember someone we’ve lost or reconnect with someone we’ve found. And so poor Shea will be inundated with some sort of memory preserving gift pretty soon…and my greatest wish is that she and her hubby and their baby and their friends fill it with a lifetime full of memories. I hope you will do the same for the people in your lives.

And with that…I will leave you with what I hope will be the first photo in their book – six-week old Baby Cyr (and Shealyn’s uterus – you can thank me later Shea for putting that on the internet). ;)

Beth

5 comments:

Alabaster Mom said...

Hi Beth, I found your blog via your Facebook page. It was so good to find you again and to see what you've been up to. You look virtually the same as you did in high school, I tell ya! I am sorry to hear that you have struggled with infertility. I endured four miscarriages before adopting an infant (who has grown into the coolest three-year-old around). My struggle is over, but I still grieve for the ones I lost . . .

Oh, and I have given all of those reasons for not scrapbooking!

Kristin said...

Beth, this is a fantastic story, and inspiring too. I write so much all day long, but I don't write enough about the important stuff. And this is after I just went to a weeklong writing camp in New Mexico, which should have gotten me in gear!

Take care,
Kristin

Laurie said...

Beth, you are an amazing writer. This colum touched me especially close, since I too have delt with the fertility struggle. Thank you so much for sharing your friends story. I love to hear the success stories. There is nothing more wonderful in life than that momment when you look at the little stick and it says "it finally worked mommy"! Once again than you for sharing your heartfelt story, I cant wait to read your next article.

ddinak said...

Dang Ya Beth!!!! I almost didn't get past the comment about missing Alaska without commenting myself but I kept going and you made me almost cry! I've always loved "The Song Remembers When" by Trisha Yearwood. I've also tried to make layouts to songs I love like "I Hope You Dance" and now "Slipping Through My Fingers" (GO SEE MAMA MIA!!) I think sometimes songs say the words we'd like to journal if we could just put the pen to paper.

I'm so happy for Shea. She and the baby will be so blessed to have you around. Aidan and Delanie still want to go see you guys (more than those PA people even!woo hoo!) You and Don are the best adopted Auntie and Uncle ever!

Oh, I have a song for you guys too, it is Easy Silence by the Dixie Chicks (I know you don't care for them but this song still reminds me of you and Don)
Hugs!

Shirley said...

Beth,
What a wonderful post! I laughed and felt joy as you were telling your story. I am so excited for your friends and their baby. I had to laugh about putting her uterus on blogworld for all to see. It's just like you!!!

 

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