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Coming Through the Walls of Her Memory

I read this someplace and liked it. We all think about our past and what we remember and what we don’t, and wonder if something really happened or if we think it did. Am I “remembering” something based on what someone said rather than what really happened? Did I forget things because I am repressing them or do I simply have a bad memory?

I was at a dinner with my family where they were celebrating my birthday. It was fun and unexpected, which made it even more fun, and my son sat across from me and my niece next to him. At one point he said how he loved his childhood and had great memories, as far back as when he was four years old. His cousin next to him said that she could not remember her childhood. I looked at them both and thought – maybe said - how can that be? I started law school when my son was an infant. He arrived in July and I started evening classes in September. I was home during the day the first year although started working part time in a law office in the next few years. I was never a great cook or homemaker although I did like our house and neighborhood. All that is to say that I have looked back with some guilt thinking that I was never a great mother. I got divorced when my son was 11 and remember how hard that was for him and my daughter who was 14 and suffice to say that guilt has been a companion for years. And then my son says – I loved my childhood.

The other part to this was when my niece, who I know had a wonderful childhood with parents who loved each other and spent a lot of time with her and her two sisters, said – I don’t remember anything. How could that be? How could my son have good memories and she have none?

I did not ask my son, what about after the divorce? What about teen years? Nor did I ask my niece the same thing. I just thought that maybe what I remembered about my past was not real either. Maybe things were often better than I thought. Sure, there were painful times, but there were good times that for some reason I did not remember. Maybe I just have a bad memory – who knew?

I had a client who was changing a tire on a truck, and it exploded, shattering his sternum. I met him years after this happened and he said that every so often a sliver of the sternum would come through his skin. This sounds apocryphal now, but our bodies, like life, are more amazing than we think. They take care of us in ways we do not understand, and I wonder if our memories do that too, slipping through our skin to heal us. Slow process, but still, a healing process.

Maybe if we listen more closely we can hear our past, a more loving past, coming through the walls of our memories.

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