I went to see my sister this weekend, and as normal when we get together there was an obligatory amount of time spent reminiscing about something we had both found hilarious at some point in the past. This time my brother was the poor victim (despite not being there to defend his dignity) and the time in question was when he got a frozen cup of water stuck to his tongue. He must have been about 12, and we both recall him running around the kitchen, flapping his arms, trying to shout at someone to help him release the dangling cup from his mouth, but making no sense (surprising how much you need your tongue to speak) I think he only lost a couple of layers of skin in the end…
It got me thinking about memories, and the shared experiences that bind us together. What makes a good one, what makes a bad one and why do some so instantly come to mind, whilst others are buried so deep they cease to exist even in your own consciousness, not even to be jogged by someone insisting they did actually happen.
If I search my brain right now, some of the random things that bubble quickly to the surface are;
- Burning the bottom of my feet on a beach in Spain – bad
- My sister throwing a dart at my brothers head – good / bad / funny / could have not been funny
- A bird that we rescued and looked after in a box – good
- Wearing cream dungarees – good
- The first McDonalds I had – good (but should have been bad)
- The alarm clock at my grandparents house – indifferent
- Being confused as to why ‘public hair’ was called ‘public’ when it was supposed to be private – no comment
This random collection of memories was triggered by nothing more than my powers of recall and seemingly have no connection other than that they have all happened to me and I can remember them.
As for the ones I can’t recall, but others insist have happened, all I can say is ‘prove it’ and thank god Social media and digital cameras are a relatively new concept…
The important memories should be nurtured, bought out for a spring clean now and again, making sure they don’t get lost or buried amongst the endless layers of mundane and inconsequential.
I’ll take you back to an amazing, but pretty strange day in my life – the day I gave birth to Chloe. Recalling the indignity of giving birth is pretty easy – I distinctly remember not caring that a group of expectant parents on a tour of the maternity ward could see through an open door, whilst passing, parts of me that would never normally be appropriate (Gives weight to my ‘public hair’ confusion I guess…) I remember being completely blown away, shocked and horrified that *that* is how they figure out how dilated you are… but I can’t remember, despite searching my brain for *minutes* the name of the absolute Wonder Woman who kept me calm enough to ensure my beautiful bundle of joy came out in one piece.
Pretty normal so far, but then it got weird… About 12 hours in and with me high as a kite, my then husband exits stage left to renew the parking ticket on the car and reappears 10 minutes later with one of my best friends from school in tow (who I’d not seen since the day we signed each others leaver’s shirts and I migrated 100 miles away to Devizes). I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to hold a sensible conversation whilst being completely off your face, but I don’t think anything I was saying made too much sense. I do remember finding it funny though, despite being in complete agony. Turns out she was also in labour, also having her first baby – she gave birth to her son 3 hours after I’d had Chloe, who I got to meet at the grand old age of 30 minutes, when they were both wheeled up to the ward, to share the bed next to me… (NB please see last blog on fate!)
We spent a lot of time together after that, trying to overcome the bewilderment of motherhood together, sometimes succeeding, often not… We were lucky enough to create plenty of memories, both for us and the kids. Little did I know just how precious those memories would become, when 3 years later she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember lots about that time, but something that really sticks in my mind is her telling me it was unlikely she’d live for 5 years, to which I just laughed at how ridiculous that was and came out with some tired cliché about the fact any one of us could get run over by a bus tomorrow – my naivety shining through yet again. She was right of course. She died 5 years to the day of her diagnosis. She was 29.
The irony of it all was that she was probably the most full of life of all of us. It’s hard to describe Laura without using the words vivacious, kind, generous, beautiful, courageous, up-beat. I swear she had it in her to be a comedian if she’d had the time and inclination. She had so much to give and taught me so many things, one of which was how to smile in the face of adversity. She’s part of the reason why I am who I am today – it’s not an exaggeration to say she inspired such a huge change in me. I owe her so much.
Life without Laura is different. We would have had 10 more years of memories by now, in fact, we should have had 10 more years of memories by now. But we don’t. Our kids should have grown up together. They didn’t. The thing with memories is they can’t exist if they don’t happen.
Like everyone else, I’ll continue getting busy making memories. I’ll wonder which ones will stick, which will never see the light of day, which will have the ability to steer me in a new direction, which will firmly anchor on the brakes. I’ll wonder if I hadn’t documented it, whether I’ll remember the tears flowing as I wrote this post?
Rest in peace Laura, I’m beyond privileged to have had you for even the briefest of moments as a friend. You’ll never know the impact you had on my life, but I thank you so sincerely for it.