What If I Didn’t Remember?

Contemplating the memories I don’t have—and how my life might change if they existed—was recently sparked by discovering family memorabilia. (See here.)

Contemplating the memories I do have—and how my life would change if they didn’t exist—started years ago after I read a book review.

I forgot the title and author, but I never forgot the circumstances. A man lost his memory and had to continue his life with a blank slate.

What would it be like for me to lose memories—and not just any memories—but the ones I believe hinder me? Once, it seemed like something I might want to try.

What if I didn’t remember the unkindness?

What if I didn’t remember the betrayals?

What if I didn’t remember the unmet expectations?

What if I didn’t remember the failures?

And much more.

As the years have passed, I have come to a different conclusion than I had originally. I might be more successful or braver or happier without the negative memories, but I would be less.

Less kind.

Less loyal.

Less realistic.

Less encouraging.

Less helpful.

Less me.

How have negative memories molded you?


What If I Remembered?

Memories are important. But what about the ones that slipped away? After reading about unremembered family events. (See here.) I have been wondering how would I be different if those memories still existed?

Would I trust others more? Or less?

Would I trust my instincts more? Or less?

Would I take more risks? Or less?

Would I be more creative? Or less?

Would I be calmer? Or more anxious?

Would I perceive myself as dumber? Or smarter?

Would my adult hobbies be the same? Or different?

Would I have more respect for family and friends? Or less?

And many other questions.

Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us.

Oscar Wilde

If Wilde is correct, my diary has gaps. Big gaps.

What do I wish I had known and am learning along the way? My perceptions—especially about myself and older family members —are inaccurate.

Has someone’s memory ever changed your opinion?


Memories That Slipped Away

For days, I delved into letters and cards dating from 1923 to the early 1990s. I discovered much about people I thought I knew. For example, my mother. Boy did she have a lot of beaus in college, and I thought she was overlooked.

And my grandmother. I knew she had a quiet family wedding. Her father disapproved because she was nineteen. However, I didn’t know the marriage surprised neighbors and extended family.

While a preschooler, my sister was more creative and skilled than she remembered. Once, she pantomimed multiple musical instruments.

Of course, I learned about myself. I wish I had a video of sixteen-month-old Mollie laughing and clapping 30 minutes straight at her older sister’s birthday celebration. Or fetching her jacket later that day and saying, “Want to go.” The answer to trick or treating with her sister was “No.”

16-month-old Mollie

I wish I remembered three-year-old Mollie being taught whole, half, quarter, and eighth notes by her five-year-old sister. Or her four-year-old thoughts when she said, “Write Grandmommy that I’m drawing her the silliest picture.”

The Silliest Picture

Unremembered childhood events feel like a lost self.

Do you long for memories of events you have heard about?

Family, Friendship, Memories

Processing Pain

Take in moments and don’t move on. Take it in so you can be wiser from your moments.

Denna Kastor 2004 Olympics Bronze Medalist

I am quoting Kastor’s words for the third time in two years because her words resonate with me. I regularly need to take in my moments and am more joyful when I do.

However, how do I process painful moments? I stuff. Down deep. Until a situation or a photograph or a spoken word evokes the pain. Or it pops to the surface for no apparent reason. (Like the night I wrote this blog.) Sometimes I have forgotten the pain for a long time.

I am learning to sit a few moments in both past and present pain and experience the emotions of loss or grief or disappointment or disregard or betrayal. To probe the extent of what happened and how it affected me. My forgiveness is superficial when I deny the cost.

To paraphrase Kastor:

Take in Pain and don’t move on. Take Pain in so you can be wiser from your Pain.

Surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. Isaiah 53:4

Friendship, Memories

Wound Openers (Reprise)

An innocent acquaintance opened an old wound with her simple question (see here). I understood my unexpected reaction, but what if I hadn’t?

One morning during a conversation among friends and acquaintances, one woman made a statement about World War II. Another disagreed. That seemed the end of it until one came to me and expressed her anger. Frequently, she encountered the woman who had disagreed with her. Each time, ugly, intense feelings overcame her. She wanted to forgive the woman—for what I thought was a benign statement.

I gave some shallow advice, but my husband immediately identified the problem. The words had opened a wound that needed healing.

I knew that the father of our European friend was a businessman in territory captured by the Japanese during World War II. I knew our friend was interned by the Japanese and spent her teen years in conditions slightly better than a prisoner of war camp. I didn’t know that although she immigrated to the U.S. as an adult and told stories of God’s grace and care during those difficult years, our friend still had wounds that bled easily. Thankfully, she agreed to counseling.

Any insight into identifying old wounds?