Last night, I recalled a beautiful moment from my childhood between myself and my mother. This memory seemed to come from nowhere. My husband had returned late from work, and we were standing in the kitchen, talking about something I cannot even recall, and suddenly, there it was, this memory. It was so vivid; I abruptly (and rudely…I am sorry Giorgio) broke away from our conversation, opened the computer and began to write it down.
I don’t often remember the happy moments with my mother, so I felt an urgency to record it, to find a way to preserve it, so that the day my memory fails it will not be lost forever. I wrote about a time so long ago, but that last night felt so close. As I wrote, I felt and heard my mother as she was then. I felt myself as a small girl, cradled in the arms of her mother.
I wrote with longing for my mother as she was in that moment and with sadness for what could have been and was not-she had so many dreams for how her life would be. Mostly, I wrote with love. As I wrote, I felt the same love I had for my mother when I was so little. It was pure, not tainted by anger and resentment.
When I was done and just before I hit publish, a thought struck me. Once I hit publish, once I send this out into the world, into the blogosphere, what if the memory disappears? What if I had just transferred it from my mind to the computer? The brain’s capacity to retain and retrieve is limited. What if our minds are inherently lazy, unwilling to fight to keep memories that have already been wrapped up neatly into text and boxed into notebooks and computer screens, happy to free up space for the lifetime of more memories that will clamor for a place in the mind’s limited storage facility?
And what of recalled and recorded memories? No matter how hard we strive to remain true, the written word is never as pure, as real as the actual memories and feelings we hold within us. Those are invariably filtered as we strive to match feelings to words and translate the unspoken into a code of letters and commas.
Last night, I did not want to lose that memory of my mother, to send it away in a document that couldn’t possibly express what really was and what I really felt. I prefer to keep her, as she was that night so long ago, close to me, in me, in my memory. Perhaps, years from now, when my capacity to recall becomes so diminished that my memories begin to escape, then I will hit publish. Until then, I will remain the keeper of that moment.