Daily Prompt: Carry
I carry a piece of Jim’s soapstone in my pocket on days when important decisions are to be made. This last year I have added one of Roo’s pop can tops. My brother’s ring is carried on my left hand, my mother’s ring on my right. I carry Roo’s thumbprint around my neck, always. I carry the names of my loved one’s tattooed under my skin. My stomach bears stretch marks – evidence that I loved them before the rest of the world met them. These are tangible things that others can see of the things that are important to me.
In my head, circling day after day, are the important lived experiences of those who are most important to me. In my head are memories so vivid I can almost reach out and touch them – memories revolving around what made you smile, made you angry, and made you laugh… I can smell Roo all sweaty after a football game… the smell of Jim’s mechanic shop on a hot summer day – the tang of grease mixed with orange citrus hand soap before lunch… the smell of Gem after a bath – lavender and milk baby lotion.
I carry things that are most important to me even when it is painful to carry. To put them down would be denying that these things happened, denying that these things have shaped me, somehow denying their existence. It’s as if not carrying them is forgetting them. My arms carried them when they couldn’t yet walk. My arms carried them when they were tired. My arms carried them when they wanted to play. My arms need them as much as they need me. Even when they aren’t here to need me I still need them and my arms ache with emptiness. My ears ache with the absence of their voices. Sometimes I will indulge my ears with listening to old voicemail’s from Roo. They are voicemails asking if he can go to a friend’s house or letting me know he has made plans to go somewhere. I will indulge my senses by watching and re-watching videos from football games, graduation, and times with his friends… The memories replay in my mind so often I don’t have to watch the videos, but my ears and eyes ache from the absence so I will submerge as many senses I can in him. It is all for naught. I cannot touch him, I cannot make new memories…no matter what I do…I cannot will him here. Pictures, videos, voicemails, clothes, pop tabs…I gather as many pieces as I can, but they aren’t enough.
I fear that this will happen again, so I take so many pictures of Rin that she gets frustrated. She indulges me as much as she can, but it is often too much. I take the pictures under some made-up excuse because I don’t even want to tell myself the truth – that I’m scared. I take mental note of Rin’s outfit every day before she leaves the house because what if today is the day something bad will happen – what if I need to file some kind of missing person’s report – what if? I fill up flash drives of memories that were lucky enough to be caught on camera and there they sit – waiting for when they will be needed. It’s gruesome in a way, but it satisfies something within me.
The smallest, most trivial, most “normal” things have come to hold the most value in my life. Watching and witnessing how someone takes their coffee, drinks their milk, puts on their shoes, and constantly misplaces their keys. These small things hold so much value when they suddenly become a memory and can no longer be witnessed. When a new reality that doesn’t include the ability to witness these things is forced upon me then these things become priceless.
I carry the memories, the fears, the tentative flickers of hope…the names, the scars, the love… I carry them on and within myself so they will be with me always…