Saturday, August 11, 2012

Safekeeping the Memories

I read an article recently written by Susan Fuller, author of  How to Survive Your Grief When Someone You Love Has Diedthat made the point that even though it can feel like there is no end in sight of the pain of grief, if we look closely enough we may be able to see the progress we are making along the way.

The author went on to say that one sign of moving forward that we may notice is that we are thinking more about the person who went on ahead from before they got sick and died than we are about their illness or their death.  "For a time, who they were and how they died may weave themselves together, but in time the memories of who they were in life generally win out," she says.

I'm not sure I'm at that point yet.  I sometimes find myself thinking about things that my dad did or said before his diagnosis, but I can't say those times outweigh the times I am thinking about how it was when he was battling cancer or - a third time frame - since then and the things he should be here for and what he would be doing or saying if he were.

Without a doubt, that's what my dad did.
Reflecting back on what my family and I felt about Dad's valiant effort to stick around with us for those last weeks, I am aware that it's the perspective, and the realization that he would have done anything (and technically he did) he could for us, even in the midst of his own misery, that matter.  It would be so easy to have chosen to only think THIS SUCKS and IT'S NOT FAIR about any or all of it, but, though those things are certainly true and though those thoughts do come into play for some of it, instead, somewhere along the way we chose to make the effort to be happy and grateful and present and appreciative for as much of it as we can, an attitude that we modeled after the one that Dad had throughout his lifetime.  We knew our time with Dad was dwindling, and so we worked overtime to catalog even everyday events (the joys and the struggles) with him in our memories, for when we couldn't do that anymore.  I will be forever grateful for having the extra time to do that.

And back to the point of that article:  From my perspective, there is great value in safekeeping all of our memories, the good and the bad.  Maybe we just need to store the good ones a little closer to the front of the safe.

"Take care of all your memories.  For you cannot relive them." ~Bob Dylan 

Barbra Streisand

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