The Courage to Remember Takes Practice

I’m two days and knee-deep in my newest must-read grief book, Bearing the Unbearable and I come to a chapter on the courage to remember. The author, a PhD who lost her daughter in 1994, says that “in early grief, people say that one of their greatest fears is that others will forget.” She also says that I will. Memories will fade. I will forget.

I must practice remembering her.

Maybe I share for a nod of understanding or for posterity, but today, I’m going to say that I share because I am practicing.

Kate’s second toe on one of her feet didn’t lay quite right when she stood. It was adorable and I can remember that I’d find myself staring at her little foot often. It overlapped the big toe on that foot and for the life of me, I cannot remember which without looking at a picture. I’m thankful I have pictures of this exact thing that was a sweet, tiny, insignificant thing about her that made her HER. It crushes me that I do not remember.

Kate so craved order and rules that she would become very frustrated with anything purporting to be a rainbow unless it followed a very strict Kate-given guideline. It must be (in this order) red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. Rainbows had no business having teal or pink. Once when she was recovering from a steroid cycle and feeling icky, we decided to paint her toes rainbow color. She furrowed her brow when I had to explain that she had 10 toes and there were only 6 rainbow colors. I believe she allowed extra colors that time…but not without giving me the what for.

When Kate was just a little girl of two, she developed this hilarious little smirk and would break out with it when she’d said something clever or funny and while waiting for us to laugh. It was this “hee hee I’m so funny, but I’m not gonna smile” smile. Only those closest to her know this well. I’m thankful I remember it.

Her fingers were beautiful. I’ve taken photographs just of her hands. Her eyebrows were the most expressive on any kid I’ve ever seen. She’d tilt her head and look at you with an expression on her face like “I’m paying attention, I promise!” when you’d demand it from her. I can’t even describe it, but I remember it. She had to use the potty EVERY night just 2 minutes into bath time. Just long enough to get totally soaked, it never failed. Every night she’d slip slide her way out of the tub and over to the potty. She had the funniest little accent, for lack of a better word, that made certain words sound like she came from an entirely different geographical region, though I’m not quite sure which. I’d ask her to say diaper, peanut butter, sugar and hurt over and over again. I wish I didn’t remember why she used the word “hurt” so much in her way-too-short life. Sadly, I remember that too.

I remember the curve of her cheek and her perfect nose. I remember the weight of her as she got entirely too heavy to carry to bed. I’m so glad I still did. I remember the way she would sing when I dried her hair and when I’d stop, she’d stop. I’d always ask her to sing for me, and she never would. I remember the sound of her cries and her pleas, though I wish I could drown those out. I remember her last moments here on earth a little too well. A little too vividly. Yet I can’t remember the last decent moments. I can’t remember the last time I told her I loved her and heard her say it back when I knew she was still with me. I can’t remember if I was comforting to her in her final days or if I was distracted.

Some of my remembering needs practice. Some could take a side step out of my mind for a while. Though even the bad and the ugly belong there with the good, it is the good I seek.

Kate, you are more than the story shared here on this website. You are more than a cause. A logo. You are first and foremost YOU and YOU are who I seek.

I promise Kate…I will never, ever stop practicing. I remember you. I always will.

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