It is almost Throwback Thursday again. I look down at my cracked iPhone that I feel too busy and too lazy to get fixed. I look at photos from this weekend when I was trying to forget The Thing That Made Me Want To Cry and I think I don’t want to share a photo of myself right now. I think about my mother’s scarf that my sister gave me that she never washed that still smells like her that makes me cry and smile at the same time, which is the kind of thing you can never really capture with words or a photograph. I think that I want to tweet about something but hundreds of people are dead in Mexico, Hurricane Maria is terrorizing Puerto Rico and healthcare that has kept a lot of people alive might actually not be around too much longer even if the news keeps up at this pace. I wonder if it is a good thing to forget how to tweet. I think that this could be a clever thing to tweet because it would be meta and then my train comes and I don’t have Wi-Fi anymore and it’s just as well that the moment passed.
Last Thursday, my friend’s husband called me to tell me that the man who took care of my house in Austin was dead. The last time I had emailed Chuck was to ask him how he was, because Hurricane Harvey was terrorizing Texas and I was worried about my little aging house but I was more worried about my friends and I counted him in that number even if I’m not sure he knew it. Chuck wore big glasses like my Dad, and he spoke without inflection or accent, also like my Dad. As it happened, I met Chuck three years after my father died by suicide and a year after my mother died from cervical cancer. I did not believe I had tears left to shed or things left to write or feelings left to feel about possessions. I still felt stuff, emotions — almost. But generally, I just was a walking fog of sad. My problem then was that I could not stop remembering everything. I carried the past in my hair, on my shoulders, on my bookshelves, in my closets. When I spoke to Chuck’s good friend who called everyone that Chuck had taken care of like he had taken care of me — some dozens of people — I remembered meeting him at the house. It smelled like my dead dog, Cleo. My sad self haunted the place like a ghost. I can see us now, me looking at him blinking hard at me while I tried to explain why, exactly, I’d left everything in the house like I was just headed around the corner even though I’d packed most of the things I needed (books, clothes, journals) and driven them to Washington D.C. He was a good man, Chuck. He did not make small talk. He did not beat around the bush. Every once in awhile, he would send me a photo of a beach he was trying to get to know. He struck me as someone who worked diligently at being good in a world that was crooked. This is what will make it hard to forget that he was murdered.
Grief makes me foggy, though I have become more forgetful in general. I worry this will show up in my writing and it has already manifested in some weird misspellings. But where I feel it most is my heart, the part of me that clings to memory, that is so sentimental. I worry that I will forget the beautiful and painful things that shape me, that have shaped me. I worry that I will forget that even when I lose people and I don’t get to say goodbye that there are all these amazing people in my life who love me who make me laugh, who do post several Throwback Thursday selfies unapologetically before it’s even Thursday. One good thing has come from becoming more forgetful, maybe two. Used to be I was so afraid of life and the powerful strangers in it that I figured it was better to act silent and mysterious, to make myself scarce, than to write something like this and just write it on out. The other thing is: Forgetting yourself gives you courage.
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