Our memories compose our lives, rather than our lives being composed of memories. They influence us, challenge our decisions, bring us to tears or laughter at inopportune moments. We share them together at gatherings, we catch up with friends after extended absences and share the details of our lives, which are nothing more than our memories. At weddings, we share the memories from two lives up to that moment; at funerals, we share the memories of our dearly departed.
We share the memories we have so that we live on. Without these memories, we are empty shells. Imparting them to others allows them to thrive, grow, morph and be retold. Even if they are never again mentioned, they are part of someone else for a brief moment. They are shadows of our most important moments briefly re-illuminated before drifting at the edges of our collective vision once more. By reading this, you are bringing my memories back to life, however briefly, absorbing them into your own consciousness long enough to feel a tiny slice of my life.
My earliest memory is of my first nightmare. I was perhaps two years old, if not younger, and woke myself and my mother beside me by my screaming. In my dream, I was being chased by giant shapes presenting themselves as a large, orange, vague impression of a lion with a gigantic spider as big as a house coming at me from the opposite side. As I opened my eyes to evade my predators, the only light in the room came from the hallway, spreading its comforting illumination through the door standing ajar. My mother sleepily hushed me, "It's ok, Mommy's here." She wrapped herself protectively around me as she went back to sleep. I, in the warm, safe cocoon of her body, kept searching the corners for the shadows of the monsters until my eyes grew heavy. Lulled by the only sense of safety a child knows, I soon fell back asleep to sweeter dreams.
In the last year of my father's life, his memories were compounded by hallucinations. Who are we to say these were any less real? They were happening to him, so were they not memories?
My life has so many moments that make up who I am. If I don't write them down, if I don't share them, if you don't read them, what will happen when I lose them to dementia? You are the caretakers of these little moments, these crystals of time that have shaped who I am. If I die tomorrow, then you can bring me back to life in these words. The words within these pages are who I am, who I love, who I want to be, who I never was. And by reading them, you become the author of my life all over again.