I am, evidently, curating my life. But the older I get, the less I imagine being able to revisit all the things I saved to look at when I am older. That is a paradox. Do I imagine I will forget my life? The momentous occasions? I was just cleaning house and found saved magazines and newspapers from George Harrison’s death.

I have two stored boxes of print mementos in a closet—Mt. St. Helens,
an earthquake in Hawaii the day after I arrived (having escaped the swarm of aftershocks here during the 94 quake), Hawaiian newspapers on 9/11 (we were in Oahu), and the last edition of the legendary Herald Express newspaper that my dad read every day. Am I afraid I won’t remember these events? Are they part of who I am? Why do we want to relive events anyway? Do they give us a chance to see who we are now? We calculate the distance between years and between us now and us then?

I wonder if my mom had lived if I would have let her remember things for me, at least until some typical midlife searching. Then I could have asked her about things, things that impacted my life. Maybe losing her so early made me both mother and daughter. Maybe losing her so early made me fear that anything can vanish suddenly—or explode. The world changes in a second. Maybe Mt. St. Helens and earthquakes and George Harrison’s death are just like mom’s death. Maybe they are mom’s death. Maybe I collect reminders of shock. Trauma. Disaster. Loss.

Maybe I was afraid I would forget her. I don’t remember the corporeal Helen. I remember Marleen as if she were in the room right now, but not mom. Mom is more of a cellular memory, part of me but not visible. She is a niggling physical sensation, a suggestion of someone. She is on the tip of my tongue.

I threw away some old notes from Marleen’s ill days just before I wrote this. Notes I wrote when helping her find a psychologist to get her through chemo. I thought maybe I should let go of them since they can no longer help her. But they were my scribbled handwriting, written then, so they kind of are then. They kind of are her. I must be afraid I will forget her too.

Proof. I am saving proof… of what was, and what was lost.

4 thoughts on “Proof

  1. Curating a life, great phrase. It’s what we do. I’m a bad person to comment, as I find it so hard to throw away those kinds of things that you mention. Memory is tricky. We think to ourselves, “Oh, I’ll remember that,” but how much of that do we remember? Do we actually remember the parts that we want to remember?

    Lovely post.

  2. I like your new photo 🙂 I never used to throw anything away. It’s been a long process to get to where I do it at all. But watching Hoarders and Hoarding Buried alive has made me realize I have a bt of it.

  3. I can so much relate to saving memories (in the form of objects) – even the painful memories. Ironically it is very hard to look at these old things but I still keep saving them. Holding on to the people I loved by saving things that had to do with their lives, even the painful parts of their (our) lives seems very important. You are not alone in this!

  4. Fascinating reflections on what moves one to keep certain records–or to throw them away. Life demands so much work of sorting, remembering, discarding, embracing. . .Thanks for the engaging post.

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