I Try Not To Forget
Picture the hotel room in Switzerland. Remember the drive through northern Minnesota in January. Picture the huge dinner our Italian friends hosted after the concert. Close your eyes and imagine the last show we did together in Georgia. I play something I call “The Memory Game.”
It’s not particular to me, or to my situation—that fear of forgetting something—but knowing that I will (hopefully) be around for a long time, the fear of losing even one of my memories of Pete looms large. So I make lists. Pete would laugh at this point because he knew how I loved to make lists. I do—so I do. I make lists of memories every time a vision pops into my head. I write them down in my notebook. Then, during quiet times, I stop for a moment and close my eyes and relive the moment in my mind. I make it as vivid as I can to burn those pictures permanently into my mind. I make it real. I see us, and I move around in the memory. I make my heart race, or I feel laughter in my throat, I touch things in the memory. I want to be able to draw on them whenever I want, for however long that I want. Kind of similar to a technique for memorization I read about recently, a “mind palace.”
Will I be criticized for “not letting go,” for “living in the past?” I don’t know. I don’t care. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but it’s survival at this point. I never want to move past this. I never want to forget.
I’ve heard other people refer to not wanting to forget about their loved ones. That when they are told that someday they’ll be able to put this behind them—they’ll someday be able to “move on.” I think that strikes fear in us grievers. Hearing that we’ll someday have moved beyond our grief sounds like, “someday you’ll forget the one you loved most in your life.” I am well aware that’s not what is meant by this encouragement. I feel that I know what they are saying is that the horror of grief won’t linger for your whole life, and one day you’ll feel joy again. But I think when grief is this fresh, I probably connect the pain and the love and thinking about the pain going away makes me think that I’ll forget how much I loved Pete. In my mind, the only way I’ll ever feel joy is if I forget that Pete ever existed, and that throws me into a panic.
So every day I go through my memory exercises to keep it all fresh…Remember the time we ate coffee ice cream and binge-watched The Sopranos, remember sneaking up on his studio door and quietly closing it because the music was so loud I couldn’t work, think about that time you bellied up to the bar for cold beer at the Woody Creek Tavern after a particularly satisfying day of fishing, picture Pete nervously practicing and getting psyched up for his Carnegie Hall debut, remember…remember…
Do you rehearse memories of loved ones?