I keep forgetting things: where I put my keys, why I came into the kitchen. It’s as if my brain is constantly reminding me that middle age has arrived. (Thanks).
But remembering things? Now that’s another matter. I have memories so strong that they’ll never leave – some good, some bad. My long term storage is surely getting too full. I feel like I’ll need to order more storage at some point. The hippocampus region in the brain is a marvel, storing and processing memories more efficiently than a machine ever could.
This week the world remembers the fallen from two world wars: the numbers still impossible to compute, the age of young men still impossible to understand. Remembering in this sense is dark but important, the urge to learn lessons is heavy.
This week is also the anniversary of my brother’s death. A single story that brings into sharp focus the losses of many. He died from lung cancer yet never smoked. He was funny, warm and kind. He was my brother.
They say that time heals all wounds. This is nonsense, of course, time just wraps itself around the injury and lets it bleed. It’s been seven years. Sometimes it feels like yesterday, sometimes it feels like seven years – that’s what time does to grief. The burden is lighter now, though, and I’m grateful.
I’m also grateful for the memories that cling on: playing rounders at family picnics, being pushed (accidentally on purpose) into a bunch of nettles, 70s photos with hilarious, wonky fringes. Memory works in strange ways. I love these images arriving in my mind but it’s taken a long time to erase the horrible ones of his last days and hours. Brightness is better. And soon enough it overcomes the dark.
I don’t really care where I left my keys or what I came into the kitchen for. I care about these memories and all they bring back.