Memories are Made of This …..

First Learn to Be Silent , Then to Experience Silence and only then to Question the Silence ….

Memories are funny old things really .. as soon as an event has happened and we start to replay it from memory we create a whole new view on it.. we highlight the pieces we want to remember , the pieces we think we remember , the bits that stood out .. we forget or file away pieces that don’t interest us or are potentially too traumatic to focus on .. and hence the memory becomes our reality .. but it is not reality.

I do a lot of memory work with clients so I often find myself that memories of my own  from many years ago will just pop into my head .. no apparent reason and normally with no adverse effects, although like all therapists we have steps in place should that happen .. funny how the memory was like it wasn’t even there and then it’s like watching an old movie and everything comes back .. the sensations , the emotions , the smells even  . .. and then there are those key moments – memories of a time when you fixed a moment in your mind. You know when you sit somewhere and say I will always remember this moment .. in 10 years time I will look back and remember this …. Memories in therapy can work in many ways – focusing on memories of happiness will bring back that emotion , focusing on key events can provide anchors when life seems chaotic.

Memories have been on my mind a lot in recent weeks and perhaps throughout this year along with a feeling of disquiet…. As a scientist I would say its because of the client work I do and because I am running at full pace at the moment, setting up events , launching a new business and still spending far too much time in the social media world, taking in lots of bite size pieces of information rather than digesting and savouring learning .. But as a Pagan ( albeit rather lapsed) I would say it’s because we are reaching the end of the Pagan year – Samhain for us marks the final turn of our Wheel of the Year when dig down through the darkest days and wait to celebrate the return of the light at Yule . Like all new years a time for refresh and reflection .

Perhaps also memories are on my mind as it sees some key years coming to pass – both my daughters had banner birthdays – 21 and 18 which mean looking back at old photographs , reminiscing and of course thinking where did the years go – how old do I feel !! I was 44 this year and that for me feels like a turning point – 45 seems the start of the next stage of life I guess.

Then of course there is the combination of the changing of the year and a key memory which changed my life – for there is also another banner birthday this year – that of my eldest son Kieran who would have celebrated his 10th birthday. The first big birthday. But Kieran was born asleep and so along with his birthday is a whole host of emotions of sadness and grief and what if’s … memory of this time is hard but also important and the current #onemoreminute campaign and the fact that it is baby and child loss awareness month in October has of course had me thinking about the memories I have ( not that I don’t always do that). In the early years each anniversary was a reflection on all consuming loss that is felt when a child dies. In more recent I now work to focus on the few memories that remind me that I was and always will be his mum. ..I can still smell that baby smell as I held him  and I can remember like only yesterday sitting next to his crib in the hospital to keep my vigil that one and only night I had with him. I can also clearly remember feeling so anguished that in 10 years time he would be just a memory – a baby in a photograph.. and yet now we are there in the future I foresaw I know that isn’t true at all. Because he is so much more than a memory.

The loss of Kieran brought about a fundamental shift in my life – a huge change   for the people involved alongside overwhelming , gut wrenching grief … but in the years that came a feeling of wanting to make each day count, to do something of value , to work with others and help them see that you can achieve whatever your circumstances gave me a strength and a point… and that got me where I am now.

And so nearly 10 years to the day ( his birthday is on the 4th November) I will cherish those memories and create ones which fill me with pride and purpose. They may not be exact to the real events but that doesn’t matter .. because our memories are how we choose to learn. So take some time and reflect , wander down memory lane and perhaps create a new focus point right now to look back on in another 10 years… I never imagined I would be where I am now, at that moment in that hospital as I looked at my beautiful son to say goodbye.. but in 10 years time I will look back and remember that I was happy now, that we lived in a wonderful cottage called the Three Fishes next to our favourite pub .. and that 10 years on life was good… and I will lean into the disquiet and let it settle , I will look to not fight against it but to explore it as Mindfulness teaches us .. and then see where life takes me next.


ps I thought a lot about sharing this story hence why my blog has been rather sparse lately but one thing I wanted to be certain of was that he is not forgotten and therefore just as I write about my other children I write about him … and also I hope that others might see that life can good again .. you can be happy .. it will never be as it was – you will never be as you were .. but it can be good.