Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

Monday, June 24, 2019

Keeper of the Memories

One of the toughest things I've experienced in the ten months since my husband died has been carrying the burden of our memories. I would never have expected memories to be anything other than a pleasant, welcome diversion. One of the frequent comments people made was something to the effect of "You had so many good years together, and all those memories."

Like those who made the comments, I too would have thought it would be a positive thing. Having 48 years together was lovely, although naturally I wanted more. Reflecting back on our life should be a comfort, right? 

In a way, yes and in a way, no. When something comes up from our past, whether good or bad, who do I share it with? I can't turn to Bruce and say, "Remember when....?" Instead, it stays within, crying to be shared with the one who, like me, knew it from firsthand experience. 

How I'd love to talk over some of those rough times with him when they come to mind:

"How did we ever get through it?" 
"Things worked out pretty well after all, funny about that."
"What do you wish we'd done differently?"
"Here's what I learned from it, how about you?"

Being left as the sole keeper of the memories is not as pleasant as one would expect. It can be a lonely job. In the book The Giver by Lois Lowry, there's the giver and the receiver of memory. The receiver's duty is to take in memories of the society from the giver. When the giver passes on, the receiver carries on until a new receiver shows up, and then the other becomes the giver.

I think I need to appoint someone in my family as Receiver and I will be the Giver, for as long as it takes. Although in the book, they are not appointed, they just are. So I'll keep my eyes out for the right one.