Tag Archive: memory

It’s funny how often people will ask, “What’s your first memory?” We ask each other, we’re asked by teachers, friends, films and media. We search for the beginning of our lives. What do we remember first? It’s posed as challenge. How good is your memory? If you remember far enough back you must be smart, or something. I apologize if your first memory was like mine. I’m sorry for your pain. The loss that you carry with you every day. I know the loss. I know the pain. I carried it with me for 29 years.

What’s harder is dealing with that memory. Trying to share it with others. Dealing with the shame when we keep it to ourselves. And when we share it, the eyes that turn away from us. From the brutal honesty that this life is hard. That, somehow, you were tainted from the beginning. From your first memory. People don’t like the truth because it shines a light on their hidden past. On things that they don’t want to remember, and that makes it harder. The shame, feeling “unclean” and not worthy. Friends may turn their backs. People may label you. You think how wrong it was to share. If you’re like me, you didn’t tell anyone for a long time. When you did tell someone, perhaps they tried to help. Perhaps they medicated you to help with the depression. The pain. The loss. The what if’s. Their intentions were good. Some healing may have taken place. The first person I told loved me. She did her best to help me and it helped. I talked about it more and it helped. There was some healing.

The healing lead to sharing with those who would ask, “What’s your first memory?” When I was studying abroad in Paris, the instructor assigned us a paper. Write about your first memory. I did. I poured it out onto the handwritten pages. Each page covered with wrinkles from the tears that fell as I wrote of that first memory. As I wrote of the memories that followed the first. I got an A, impressed the heck out of my instructor and was encouraged to share my paper. My “authentic” paper, as the instructor spoke of it, with the other students. There were some tears, gasps, shocked looks, pity and scorn. As I have mentioned, people have a hard time with truth. It reveals their own truth hidden in their hearts to their minds and they have to deal with it. Or not. I didn’t make any friends that day. Truth is scary and when someone speaks it, people, whether they have compassion at that moment when they hear it, or if they pity or have scorn, will run from it. We all have hidden truths in our hearts that we don’t want to face. We don’t want the light on that truth. Whether are lives seem perfect or our lives, like mine, overflowed with depression and despair. It’s easier to live with the truth hidden away. Out of sight and out of mind. Right?

It’s comfortable, the hidden truth. Whatever it is. No one knows. The thing is though, you know and only you know. How can you help yourself when you won’t acknowledge the truth to yourself? Not the truth of whatever it is that is hidden in your heart. The truth that you cannot deal with it on your own.

Now some people, they embrace the pain. They embrace that truth and speak it to everyone. It becomes their badge and their identity. They wear it proudly. They think that they are healed because they have embraced the truth. The truth, however, of that first memory and those that followed isn’t who you are. Whether, like me, you held onto it for so long and kept it neatly tucked in a heart of pain, or, if like others, you wear that pain on the outside. You are still bound by that memory. You lived it once. Why continue to live it day after day?

I was 29 years old when my grandfather died, and I had this childhood memory of my grandmother, standing above me, telling me about something valuable. Something that, when I was older, I would claim. It had to do with money but I couldn’t remember what it was nor having received it. I called my parents and spoke to my mother. I asked her about this memory and she told me. When I turned one, my grandmother had put a savings bond into the bank for me. When I turned 18 it would be worth 50 dollars. I don’t recall if I got that bond when I turned 18. However, when I was 29, and learned of this truth, what my grandmother had said, “it will be valuable,” was true. It didn’t happen when I was 18 and it wasn’t money. It was far more valuable than all the money that ever was and will be. I was 29 and that memory, was my first memory. It wasn’t that awful truth I carried for so long.

My first memory was my grandmother standing over me, proud and smiling. Had it not been for gravity, and it’s stubborn law, I think I would have floated away that day. The weight that I had carried for 29 years was lifted from my spirit and from my heart. The “truth” as I had known it, was a lie.

I was still depressed. I was still in despair, but I could say, with a gladness in my heart, if anyone ever asked again, that my first memory, was of love.



Flowing passed, ice shrouded
corpses, of cows, spirited along
by torrents of rushing river,
we walk, through drifts of
garbage- looking, almost
redeemed, through glacial covering.
Cars float by, eerily inhabited
by the twirling water, swirling
within empty seats. Thick arbors, of
ice adorn trees above, guardians
from the falling snow, along the encrusted
road, meandering- tripping, over
pebbles, bottles, bloodstained iron
that now, litter this forgotten
road. Eye focused
on the gray, seeking solar ways,
a snowflake dips,
into the eye- blinking,
winter weeping, dimpled rubies,
closing the door. Memory cast,
into dark waters, of
winters, long passed.

Corporate Memory

the lines,
of Time.

a murmur.

Open your
with your

the castaway,