Originally published Nov 2012
I was talking to my friend, F, a long time ago and I referenced some obscure detail in our past which prompted her to say, “As we say in Kindergarten,” (she’s a teacher), “‘That’s good remembering.”
No one had any idea what I was going to remember, if anything, when I woke up. It turns out I remembered quite a lot, actually, including everything leading up to me collapsing at work as well as stories from my childhood. I remembered other people’s childhoods, too, e.g. one of my “reality quiz” questions was to make Ruth name all of her siblings in birth order. (She’s number 2 out of 9). Another time I made her name her buddies in “the buddy system.” Growing up the older children were partnered up with a little one to help get dressed in the morning and assist in general. Ruth named a couple of her brothers and asked, “Did I get it right?” Yeah, she got it right.
There’s an old picture in E&R’s guest room of me holding Hannah (Ai Ai and Tim’s eldest) when she was a baby. I napped there during out last visit and looked at this picture for a long time. We were both several years younger. I did not have a hole in my neck and I’m perched on the bar stool holding Hannah in a way I could not pull off now, but our happiness in each other’s company has not changed. I remember that day – we were visiting them in their 2nd house and Hannah had just woken up from her nap.
Remembering is a blessing, but it can be sad, too. There are lots of things I’ve realized only I will ever remember and I wish a lot of these things hadn’t happened in the first place. I should mention that I may be able to remember the shoes you wore to an event in 1994 but I cannot be depended on to tell you an important piece of information you shared with me an hour ago. Sometimes Mom or Dad will say something like, Remind me to plug in my phone, or Remind me to call So-and-So. 9 times out of 10 I forget to remind them. That is not “good remembering.”
When I was really sick one thing I was so grateful for was that the verses I had stored in my memory made their way out of my subconscious and were a great comfort to me when I was still unaware of what was happening and scared stiff. I used to carry a pile of index cards around in my back pocket and studied the verses on them when I had a moment. The verses that had helped me as I wrestled with my spreadsheets at work also helped me when I was too ill to know what had happened to me and why I lived in the hospital. Verses from my childhood also unlocked themselves from my heart – I’m talking about really simple stuff. I was probably four years old when Mommy had me memorize Psalm 23 so I could recite it for Tanpo when he came home from a business trip, but now at 30 years old I dreamed that I was snuggled under a blanket with Psalm 23 embroidered on it when I was super cold in the hospital but couldn’t tell anyone yet.
When I got to the 3rd Hospital and grew accustomed to waking up and keeping a schedule I was extremely disturbed at the lack of alarm clock in my room. It did not occur to me that I lacked the motor skills to use one had there been an alarm clock on my nightstand, nor could I read or write properly, so I couldn’t read my Bible or write in my journal even though Mommy brought them for me. I could, however, press the buttons on my Kindle so that it would read to me. It would read John 15 to me in its robotic voice, and I’d mouth the words as I tried to walk in PT to try and distract myself…and also because I wanted to walk SO badly: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
Note the contingency: “…if you abide in me, and my words abide in you…” That contingency kept that verse from being the magic verbal elixir I was hoping for, and there’s also the matter of God’s will and greater glory I was not factoring into the equation. But anyway, I haven’t really mastered “abiding” quite yet, but I figure that memorization is a good start. And since my vision isn’t so great right now I’m forced to rely on remembering more than I used to. So the fact that I can remember (albeit imperfectly) is wonderful.