Search This Blog

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mucky Murk

     I was out doing errands, driving along a long boring strip-malled stretch we call Route 1, and needed a lunch break. I was keeping an eye out for a tile store and somewhere good to get a quick bite to eat. Suddenly Betty's Kitchen caught my eye. Spontaneously swinging into the lot, I parked facing a lonely terrier tethered to a tree. He had the same unsure and hungry look in his eye as me, and we shared the sentiment for a moment. As I eyed him I thought about the last time I had been to this little country style diner. A quick math calculation using my son's age told me it had been about sixteen years. There were five of us then. Only three of us are still living today. My husband and mother wouldn't last much more than a year or two beyond that brunch. That day though they were healthy as young horses, and none of us could even imagine the cancer cells dancing inside of them even then. I took the deep, and relatively futile, cleansing breath I always take when my thoughts come to this, and walked in alone. I ordered some lunch, then leaned back to remember. But I couldn't. I pretty much couldn't remember anything. No details of that last visit would come back to me though I desperately wanted them to. Finally my food came to me, nothing else did.

      Not a single detail of my husband or my mother could I retrieve from the murky muck in my head. I couldn't remember where we sat or what we were wearing. I couldn't even remember what my little boy ate though I probably ordered for him. I couldn't even remember if we had a good time, or if my husband and mother tag teamed me as they often did, relishing in my inevitable indignation at their less then tender treatment of my various philosophies. I can't remember why we met there at all though I'm pretty sure it was at my Mom's request.
     This loss of details is what bothers me most now that I have become accustomed to living with the actual loss of them. It is as maddening as it is saddening. And I am afraid of what more my memory will let go of. The memories are all I have. If I had known then that in sixteen years time what we said, and felt, and wore, and ate for breakfast would be gone, erased, deleted, I would have held on tighter.
     You can not know when you come to the table that half of the people you are breaking bread with will be taken from you soon. If you did breakfast would be so very different...
     Maybe they wouldn't have teased me to teariness (if they did that time). Would I still have nagged him about his cholesterol (if I did that time)? Would we have let our son suck the jelly out of the little packets on the table (if he wanted to that time)? Would we have lingered longer over coffee? I hope so.
     I do have one memory of that morning that is very clear, and I cherish it.
     My mother and her friend followed us in our old Saab back to our little house in South Berwick. My mom was notoriously incapable of driving from one place to another without getting lost so it was imperative that we keep her in our sight. When we came to the Kittery traffic circle I remember my husband, Ian, suggested that we take a few extra revolutions around the rotary to confuse and amuse my mom. I vividly recall how I giggled with glee just as much from my shotgun seat as my now grown son did from his car seat.
      That's it. That is all that I remember. That one cherished memory. So I guess that's the moral of this story. Cherish more. And linger over coffee when you can.


  1. Thanks for this. My memory is spotty and unreliable. I try to remind myself to remember these kinds of things but the only way I really remember is to write them down! I just took my daughter to her first year at UCLA, and your post has reminded me to write down all of the seemingly mundane things we thought and said and did together during the last few days. I'm back home in NH now and I won't see her again for 88 days. Doesn't seem that long, but sure does feel it! Going to get my journal out right now!

  2. Good for you pirategrace. And thanks so much.


Thank you for commenting.