It's amazing to me how fresh memories can be. If I let them.
It was early Sunday morning and my three-year-old got up at his normal six-ish something with his normal wake up call which is opening up our door and exclaiming, "I'm a fireman!" As if we didn't know, of course.
I'm guessing my husband was already kind of awake and just laying there like he sometimes does because he bounded cheerily out of bed saying, "Why don't we snuggle on the couch and watch Fireman Sam!" to which my son squeeled with delight.
I thought, Sweet. He's got it covered. I'm just gonna close my eyes then, for just a few minutes.
Two hours later...
At 8 o'clock, which is totally sleeping in these days, I wake up in my own homemade Folger's commerical, smelling that coffee that's been brewed (my elixer! Yay!) And my 22 month old Mini, who recently learned that not only can he now reach door knobs, his tiny hands are now capable of turning them and opening them (to my chagrin), flings the door open yelling, "Mama!!!" and runs toward the side of the bed where I could only see the top of his head and one hand reaching up at me.
I've still got the sleepies in my eyes and my hair is like Medusa but knowing I have the happiness that is a full cup of coffee in my future, I pull him up and he nestles his head into my armpit and snuggles me and for a moment I close my eyes and remember those very first days. The sleepless ones, where he would wake me up around 7 to nurse and afterward, he'd fall asleep on my chest and I'd struggle with whether to chance waking him up by putting him back down in the bassinet or snuggle until he woke up again to eat. On the weekend, when my husband would be home to watch the other one, I'd choose snuggle.
I would feel his tiny breaths on my chest, feel his chest moving up and down next to mine, the soft flutter of his heart and the softness of his babyskin. I'd lay there with my tiny son as the sun would start to creep in through the white curtains in my bedroom, the birds would begin their morning songs, and I'd gently rub one tiny foot that would poke out of his little sleeper gown.
On this morning, that memory was so fresh I could just feel the autumn upon me despite the still 90-degree Augustness that it really was. There was a stillness to those mornings, a peacefulness that was a new morning after a sleepless night, where for just a couple hours, there was a satisfied, sleepy baby with a full belly and a safe place next to his mama. Ahh. Heaven.
Those were wonderful mornings and I remember them so vividly that I actually feel like I am there, in that moment again fully, if I just close my eyes.
Later that very same day, as I was reading one of my very favorite blogs, a post stirred more memories of something entirely different. It was late and my husband had already gone to bed. I was about to shut down but I read her post about how she and her husband are going to help support parents with children in the NICU through an organization they founded.
I left my comment, and began to read the comments of the 200 others before me (yes, she is a very powerful writer and blogger who has found such meaning through tragedy and quite a following to say the least), most of them talking about their own experience in the NICU and for a few minutes, there I was, right back there myself. I hadn't gotten through but three comments of other mommies before the immediacy of everything, the terror of giving birth to a baby too early, the unknowing, the crying, the alarms, the rushing, and the panic, all set in.
I closed my eyes and decided I would let it sit in my mind for a minute because it was a memory that was mine and I should never rush to put them away. Then I thought about how wonderful everything turned out, how happy everyone is, how healthy my son is, and how the only real problem with my son being born early was how difficult it was for me. Physically, everything was fine. It was me who couldn't seem to get past it at the time. And with that, I put it away, logged off and went to bed.
But I lay awake, finding my mind cluttered and wandering and before long, I found myself in my bed, home without my baby, the one night I had decided to leave the hospital to get rest because I had been sleeping at the hospital even after I was discharged (they had let me pay each night to stay there if there was a room available). Oh the emptiness that is leaving the hospital without your baby. The failure. The sadness. It all rushed back and blanketed me. Just as if it were really happening. Three and a half years later, so vivid. So fresh. And overwhelming. Crocodile tears started flowing from my eyes, uncontrollably, silently overtaking me. Even though, across the house, a healthy three-year-old was asleep soundly in his bed.
Right at that moment, Mini, who never wakes up at night, started whimpering. His whimpers turned to cries, and I wiped my tears and checked the monitor. He was up for some reason, and really upset about something. So I went to his room to check on him and it was really much ado about nothing. He was bothered by something but I never did figure out what, so we snuggled for just a little while in the rocking chair until he fell asleep and I put him back in his crib.
Because how would he, how could he, know his mother was sad, thinking about what was once, right at that moment? How did he know that his needing comfort was really the comfort his mother needed right then?
But it was. It was perfect. His timing, really was impeccable.
So many memories are put away, tightly wrapped, zipped up and locked only to resurface when we least expect it, aren't they? Some of them we try to forget, others just fade away like the seasons. I am sad to think they could be lost if I let them. What if nothing comes along to open the safe? They might always stay there right where I put them.
Even the pain of a memory is sometimes a good memory, to me. It reminds me to feel or that I once felt. It reminds me of who I am today and why. It reminds me of how blessed I am in every way, even if it's just knowing that I am able to feel. Because to feel something, anything, is so much more than feeling nothing. And I think, despite how painful some of my memories are, I'd so much rather feel something.
It's amazing to me how fresh memories can be. If I let them.