"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Friday, May 6, 2011

I Can't Remember

Bitter Root

I can’t remember much about the last time I saw my daughter. I can’t remember the date or precisely how many years it’s been. I can’t remember if we both had frappuccinos at the Starbucks where we met, or if she had something else. I can’t remember if we indulged the sweet tooth we shared by choosing something from the pastry case.

I can’t remember what she wore, or what I wore. I can’t remember how she wore her hair, whether it was kinky or straightened, long or short, in spite of her comments about my newly gray hair. I can’t remember for sure the shape of her figure then; she wouldn’t have been happy with it no matter what. I can’t remember if I was in a skinny place or a chubby place myself.

I can’t remember what we said to each other once we’d covered the summer weather and condition of the I-5 freeway traffic as we journeyed from our respective homes to that central spot. I can’t remember how much time passed after that meeting before she stopped driving altogether. I can’t remember when I realized, much later, just what it meant that she no longer drove.

I can’t remember clearly the feel of her hug or whether we kissed. I can’t remember the texture of the curve of her face in my palm. I can’t remember the precise shade of brown of her eyes or her skin or her hair.

I can’t remember her scent.

I can’t remember whether our greeting hugs and goodbye hugs that day felt anything like our very first reunion hugs when she was twenty-four. I can’t remember what she said about why it had been so long since she was willing to see me. I can’t remember what she said about future visits, whether she promised more or hedged her bets.

I can’t remember whether I was convincing when I told her I loved her. I can’t remember whether my words reflected my fear of being hurt by her and my reluctance to impose myself where I felt I had no right to be. I can’t remember if her face told me whether she knew just how much I loved her.

I can’t remember if she asked questions, if she wanted to know about my life, or just needed to tell me about hers. I can’t remember what she told me about her children, or her husband, or her adoptive family. I can’t remember which medical crisis she was in the midst of for that visit. I can't remember which previous ones she might have shared stories about.

I can’t remember what her hopes were for her future – she was young enough to still have unlimited possibilities in front of her. I can’t remember if she might have hinted at the inner demons she lived with. I can’t remember if in her laughter and cheerful banter there was a darkness I didn’t want to see or know.

I can’t remember her last words to me as we parted at the end of a long afternoon, the summer light begun to fade. I can’t remember my last words to her. I can’t remember the exact time she was no longer there, the exact moment her face was gone from my sight, the exact second that was our last.

I can’t remember why I didn’t work harder to remember every detail of what felt like a second reunion in the same way I claimed our first reunion. I can’t remember having any sense at all that there wouldn’t be more time, more days and years and visits in which to experience everything that was my daughter. 


Written in response to an assignment for a Lisa Romeo class I'm taking where every sentence was to start with "I can't remember."

Photo by Walt, taken at Catherine Creek.

22 comments:

Retired English Teacher said...

Your expressions of longing in this piece break my heart. I hope you recover and record the memories that you need to remember.

Pam said...

What a hidden blessing that writing prompt was Deb. A chance for this to be expressed, and it needed to be. You have done so in such a beautifully reflective manner where the sadness and pain finds such expressive avenues for relief.
Such an incredibly sad thing to happen when you had no idea you would not see your daughter again. The effect of shock and the fall-out of "I can't remember" is so poignantly expressed here.
Sending you much love, and while the subject is painful and so very close to your heart, I thank-you so much for the privilege of reading this.

Wanda said...

This piece squeezes my heart.

She Writes said...

.......aching.

Mark Lyons said...

Well...this is enough to make me want to just break down. Beautiful writing that strikes deep to my heart...and a great reminder to take NOTHING for granted.

I love you
Mark

Stacy Crawford said...

I hope you find peace in your heart Deb.

Teresa aka JW said...

I love love love this. An amazing glimpse. Your words remind us to drink in life as if it were our last drink.

Prayers and hugs.

Teresa

DJan said...

Many of those things you can't remember are the same ones for me. When you see your beloved child for the lat time when he is no longer breathing, it crowds out so many of the light and happy memories.

This was so beautifully written and expressed, it made me ache for my own loss.

Desiree said...

Pam has expressed so eloquently the reaction I had when reading this, Deb. Your words are hauntingly yearning and reveal the depth of your pain and longing intermingled with some regret. I think the shock of losing her erased these memories as I feel sure you were attentive at the time. Grief leads us to cocoon our deepest emotions in an effort to preserve us so that we can move on with our lives. Do not be hard on yourself for not being able to remember the details. You carry the essence of your daughter with you always.

Lilith said...

Heart breaking.

Jessica Nelson said...

I wish I didn't know that this piece is true. I wish it was only a beautiful piece of prose from someone I don't know.
I'm so sorry, Deb. :-( This is a good reminder that we should juice every moment of every day.

Alessandra said...

Hi Deb, I'm following you back from F50. This is great piece, and it is so well written I could see myself there, watching the two of you. You're an incredibly talented writer, so glad to have found you, and I'm truly sorry for your loss. Thanks for following.

Linda Hoye said...

Oh Deb, this is so touching. Warm hugs heading your way from me.

Barb said...

The cadence of your story was mournful. I could feel your regret. In your deepest heart, this writing tells me you do remember.

Charlene: the Polarblogger said...

This touches my heart so deeply. Your self-expressions are always beautiful and delightful to read.

Amber said...

"I can’t remember having any sense at all that there wouldn’t be more time..." --
This is why you can't remember. We don't remember to remember, when we think we will have more time.

love.

love.

#1Nana said...

Beautifully written, as usual, but heartbreaking. I want to read a companion piece about what you do remember.

Lavi said...

It often hurts us when we can't remember a very important event or person in our life. The writing assignment is very good, but I feel there is more than just that. I'm afraid I don't know a lot about your life and your daughter, but the sadness and remorse in your words makes me understand that you haven't had a good relationship with her and won't get a chance to see her again. Your words are beautiful and very meaningful on this day as well...

kario said...

So glad you're taking Lisa's class. So pleased you had more than one reunion with your daughter.

I'm fairly convinced that none of those details would have done anything but haunt you the way the lack of them does today. What I know is that you knew how much you loved her every moment of every day, whether you were with her or not. And I believe that she knows that, too.

Love.

Katie Gates said...

So interesting to read this post after reading "I Remember." It's fascinating what stays with us and what does not. I'm curious as to whether you wrote these in the order posted!

Donna said...

Funny, I am just like that...can't remember my mother's either. I just said that to my husband the other day. It bothers me and yet, there is a sting that hurts just a bit less because I can't.

Sandi said...

I read this post after the one you posted last, backwards I guess. I'm already so cried out from the "I Remember" one that I just feel the deep sadness and longing for more. I immediately thought about what I can't remember about the last time I saw my mom alive, and what I can remember about the last time I saw Chris before he died. Memories, and the lack thereof, are heartbreaking.