Remembering not to forget

My daughter cannot remember so much of her life.

I’ll ask her about things we did when she was 4 or 5, and she’ll look at me blankly. To me it’s a shame, because these were some of the most meaningful moments of my life. That she doesn’t carry them in her head feels like such a loss to me.

But that’s how it is for everyone, of course. I can remember a handful of events from early childhood, but no more. My girlfriend believes that these things are remain part of us on some level, still flavoring and informing our lives. I hope that’s true.

To compensate for missing memories, I’ve taken lots of photos. And for really important moments, like the Little Girl’s interactions with my deceased mom, I tell and re-tell certain anecdotes so that even if they’re not remembered, they’re still a part of my daughter’s life.

She can’t recall but can still talk about the afternoon that, at age 3, she sneaked quietly into my parents’ house, then called out, “Grandma!”, and rushed into my surprised mother’s arms, practically disappearing into the woman’s apron and house dress.

“You couldn’t even see me!” my daughter recently told someone, as though recounting a tale burned deeply into memory.

I am sure to bring it up from time to time, so the Little Girl never loses the story. I feel a bit like a propagandist, perpetuating hand-picked tales that I want to be in her head.

But it’s better than losing these events and feelings forever.

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