remember

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There’s something about these words-of -the-day that I have both loved and hated…. the days when I wake with a song and the word given is ‘grief’, for instance, or the feeling of ‘ugh, not again’ when a word is repeated. And yet, each word somehow inhabits my being, not just for the day it is given, but dwells within me on some level always. Perhaps it is true, that human life is word made flesh. We are so richly textured and fluid as one word is knit and flows into the next.

And so today’s word, Remember, on the heels of yesterday’s grief, found me, even before I knew it was the word-of-the-day, in the attic searching out boxes and boxes of journals for a rudimentary memoir I’d penned twelve years ago. Compelling and raw, I sunk into the sea of memories it held, not merely the memories recorded there, but the memory of where I was when I wrote it, having just come out of that terrible darkness. Beginning with Chapter one, I felt a great tenderness towards the one who recorded those vulnerable words.

Memories are fluid too, it seems. I heard a neuropsychiatrist speak last summer on the current understanding of how the brain processes information and stores memories. I recall him explaining that we actually change a memory when we take it out and look at it some time later in life. It is (re)colored by our current emotions and experiences. I am less consumed by shame than I was then. Words, hidden away, that felt too unsafe to share then, from some emotional distance are words I can now simply love, relieving her of her shame.

Then there were snippets of poems in several notebooks that I have no recollection of penning at all. Like this one…

'with hushed whispers in the hallways of her mind
and sideways glances in the classrooms
she discovers that they know.
Somehow they saw
the teacher's hand upon her breast
or sliding up beneath her skirt
in darkened auditoriums
Somehow they heard
although she held her breath
in library's silence, as he
unshelved and exposed her
Somehow they heard
in the vacuum of her soul, the infant cry
beneath the sheet of death
drawn up o'er her form
like wedding dresses white
 to conceal shame.
and yet the infants die
Though she pulls her sleeves down 
taut about her wrists, somehow they see
the depravity of her despair
pain received for love
punishment for mercy
and yet the infants die
beneath their whispers cruel
and yet the infants die
behind averted eyes
and yet the infants die

 

How does a person forget that? Do we tuck things away when we are finished with them, so that we don’t have to keep revisiting them over and over again? Do we also push them into the recesses when to remember them is too difficult?

My favorite understanding of the word ‘remember’ is to break it open, to re-member. I think of all of these parts of my life, all of these parts of me, disjointed and unfamiliar with each other. What gifts I can give to the one who wrote those words by greeting them with the tender compassion of an older and wiser self, less-fearful of judgment, more embracing of humanity, more understanding of the ways we respond to our pain. I can let her come into the fold, be a full-fledged member of vicki, of emma (remember the dream of wholeness that gave me the name of this blog?).

I am sometimes wise. I am foolish. I am arrogant and afraid. I am compassionate and tender. I cover my fears with unattractive defenses. I am beautiful and brave and strong. I am full of grief and sorrow, shame and despair. I am hopeful, broken, empty, joyful, free. Each word of humanity’s song is my own. Each member allowed to belong.

 

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Altheda Hughes
    Mar 27, 2016 @ 07:56:58

    When we see with our heart, we are in union with all that is. ❤️

    Like

    Reply

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