Thursday, July 9, 2009

Remembering and Forgetting

I know everyone handles grief in their own way, but for me my natural tendency toward absentmindedness has ratcheted to a new level. I leave my cell phone behind, I've gone from three pair of reading glasses to one, then found the two, but lost the one. I lost the book I was reading for three days (it was in my car), but lost the car in the grocery store parking lot (found it eventually). I couldn't find my dog's collar (it was on the vanity). I will walk from one end of the house, turnaround and walk to the other end and then wonder what I was doing at either end. I start something, then wander off and start something else, so it ends up taking me a full day and several aborted attempts to fold one load of laundry; don't even get me started on how long it'll be before I put it away. My biggest and most persistent issue is leaving water running. I overflow the deer trough nearly every morning, and last night I left the pool filling all night. I shudder to think what the water bill will look like.

But, I guess I'm as bad as I am because I am constantly being bombarded by memories of things. I see reminders of Kelsey everywhere, which will take me down memory lane whether I want to go there or not. And, it's really not the things in her closet or the family pictures, or her artwork still on its display board from the funeral, it's in all kinds of random things that I can't avoid, tuck away or close a door on. I was downtown the other day and looked over my shoulder and was greeted by the mega tall luxury condominium complex newly completed. It is a glistening jewel in the Austin skyline. I immediately remembered looking at it when it was being built while I was waiting across the street for Kelsey the night we went to the Moody Blues concert, the last concert we saw together. The other day, during the period of the missing book, I took a magazine about U2 to Mother's dentist appointment. I came to the article about The Unforgettable Fire, which was the current album when Kelsey was an infant and had a bout of colic. About the only thing that would calm her down is my placing her in the Snugglie and rocking back and forth to that album. (Ironically, she grew up not liking U2.) And the list goes on. Sometimes the memories prick me, and there's a little pain involved. The concert memory, while a good one, is followed by regretting that I never took her to a Rush concert. She wanted to go, Marissa has been with me four times. Why didn't I ever take her? Now I'll never be able to change that. Actually, that particular regret haunts me often, including those initial hours after I received the news. I remember a fairly initial thought being, "Oh, Kelsey, now you'll never see Rush in concert." But, a lot of times they aren't all that painful to endure, but I tend to get lost in them and they keep my head in the clouds instead of the here and now, where it needs to be because there are people here, on the ground, who need my attention.

I guess the bottom line to all of this is that we've been approached gingerly a few times about dispensing Kelsey's things. I know that grieving families often fall into two categories: Catapulters and Idolizers. Ironically, given her rampant hoarding, Mother was the former. When Dad died, she was very quick to clear out his half of the closet, his study and the garage - really the only area in the house where he held sway. She could not get his personal effects out of the house fast enough, as if they were somehow responsible for his death. Conversely, some people keep everything perfectly in place, like a little shrine. I imagine more than one widower or parent has stepped into a closet and taken a deep breath, trying to catch a scent of a perfume or the sweat of someone (think Brokeback Mountain if you will). But, if you were to ask me my opinion on all of that, I would say, no matter what you want - to remember every detail vividly or push it aside, try and forget so you can move on - it doesn't matter, life will shove reminders of that person at you constantly, at least for a while. I suppose after some time has past, I won't have a problem walking down certain aisles in the grocery store, or being near her first apartment complex, and I'll stop flooding things. But, I tend to think the reminders will always be there no matter where I go.

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