Have you ever stopped to appreciate the power of memory? Memories can conjure up all kinds of emotion; they help us review and relive; they help us learn; they can even help us keep important people and events close. Memories are quite personal, embodying our subjective perspective about an individual or circumstance. And memories are mighty. I’ve been touched by memory through sounds, especially music, sights, especially in nature, and even through tastes and often times, yup, smells.
Recently, I was reminded about special people, places, and events through an unexpected onslaught of memory. I believe this occasion was a sign I very much needed; it offered me both reassurance and appreciation. As if in a dim, stuffy room, where a window was opened, air and light flowed to me. Only after sensing the fresh, crisp air and warm, bright rays did I realize my need for it. I breathed deeply; I remembered fond times with family members, occasions with my child as a youngster, and special milestones... I embraced feelings of serenity, pride, worth, joy, and hope. I felt energized and cleansed. I was led by these memories to revisit precious times with dear people whom I have since lost in physical form.
Sounds pretty amazing, right? So, let me ask, why is it when I usually contemplate those no longer here, do I focus on the pain and hurt? My heart has ached, wretched and broken in grief for those passed or gone away. I miss them. I find myself feeling sad, lonely, empty, perhaps even abandoned. I long to see them, hear them, feel them, and experience more wonderful moments. Naturally! So, is it normal to miss them? Sure. Is it healthy to wallow in the anguish, probably not...
So imagine my delight this time. After a bit of an emotional afternoon, I discovered there’s much more to MEMORIES. This affect inside me was so impressive, I’m compelled to share it. I’ll go so far as to suggest the next time you recall a loss (temporary or permanent, person or thing), try focusing on the good that person(s) or time(s) bestowed upon your life. Allow yourself to relish in the joy, beauty, and wonder which touched you so deeply and that you recall so fondly. It’s the same sentiment that causes the yearning. Think about the time together and what was shared - whatever details come to mind: who, what, where, when, how… Ponder routines, expressions, teasing, habits, and tendencies. Which of them were “kinda’ cute” and which drove you crazy (knowing you’d seize them in a heartbeat given the chance)? Deliberate over the impact their being had as it intersected with yours.
Two people in particular had significant (perhaps the greatest) effect on me becoming the person I am today. I’ll sadly confess I have lost both. One I knew over forty years; the other a little more than two. Each left a cavernous hole in my heart. They’d filled me with love, acceptance, challenges, and teachings. I naturally ache with hollowness missing their presence. But here’s the remarkable insight of what I just discovered… That place in me is not just an empty abyss. Instead, it overflows with priceless gifts, ideas, memories, and lessons. They gave me part of themselves - now and forever living in me. Their affection does not cease, it remains, encouraging and stimulating me. Love triumphs!
Yes, I miss them. I wish we could talk, or that they’d be there when I’m hurt, or that they could smile, hug or put me in my place as needed. Still I’m certain this separation is not an end. I wholeheartedly believe they are with me, daily. It may sound bizarre, but they’ve both proven their presence (in small signs I missed at first, but which later, and together, struck me as incredible). I am convinced, more than ever, the spirit of loved ones are present, here and now. I savor their everlasting influence, treasure their character, and trust in their perpetual inspiration. Resting in wonderful memories is intoxicating.
So in honor of November, the month of remembrance for Saints as well as departed souls, I’ll dust off my albums and open those digital jpgs. Sorting through a plethora of photos, I recall endless celebrations, precious moments inside seasons, holidays, even in everyday chores. I’ll share with friends and family who cherished them too. I will reminisce with memories that may have collected a few cobwebs in that dim, stuffy attic. With wide open windows, mindful of both somber and fun times, difficulties, and silly habits, I will rejoice.
What about you? Are you up for a challenge that may begin with a sizable heartache, but ends in exhilaration? You might just find yourself teary, smiling, and enchanted!
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.
For we know that if our earthly dwelling should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.
Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised as incorruptible, and we shall all be changed.
I heard a loud voice from heaven, “Behold, God is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people. God himself will always be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain. The old order has passed away… Behold, I make all things new.”
For my “Dads,” I miss you dearly. Yet I am filled with gratitude for your influence on my life. Through you I have found wisdom, meaning, and perspective.
Lillian Corrigan uses writing to learn, inspire and encourage both others and herself. No stranger to devastating, life-altering hardship and loss, she's begun working as a motivational author.