I was sitting out on my porch early this morning drinking coffee. I opened up Facebook and immediately went to the On This Day memories feature. I scrolled through a dozen memories while holding my breath, but no pictures of him appeared. I scrolled through again searching old posts to see if I could locate a comment made by him. Nothing. I went back inside the house, locked myself in the bathroom, and cried.
There was a period following the loss of my Pops by suicide when I hated the On This Day feature. I hated that Facebook felt the need to continually remind me that I had memories sitting there waiting for me to revisit. I was reasonably confident I already knew what pictures were locked away in my previous Facebook posts. I knew because when I was searching for photo’s to create my Pops’ memorial video, I took many of them from old Facebook posts. However, back then, even though it was difficult to see his smiling face in photos most days, I felt obligated to look, and often to share them; to ensure people wouldn’t forget him. To guarantee I wouldn’t forget him.
Memories are a blessing and a curse. They can make you laugh and they can bring you to your knees. Memories are what I clung to, and ran from, the first year after Pops’ death. I could recount them without having to think very hard—so many of them. I could still hear his laugh and the sound of his voice. I could smell him and feel the warmth of his hugs. Some days it was too much to handle. Some days I wanted not to remember, and so I’d force those precious memories from my mind. I replaced them with being busy, and I’ve kept myself plenty busy. But something happened. Something changed. I quit remembering, and it started to become difficult to recall specifics about times past. Recently I’ve started to wonder if my memories are real or if I’m making them up by piecing together the parts I can remember with fictional connectors to complete a whole story. The fact that I’m questioning the authenticity of my memories breaks my heart.
As I was scrolling through my Facebook memories this morning, I realized that what I was searching for was proof. Proof that he existed, that he loved me and that he loves me still. I suppose in a way I was breaking my own heart. I got up from the bathroom floor, splashed water on my face and left the bathroom. As I walked down the hallway toward my office his picture caught my eye.
Oh, there you are. Right where you’ve always been, wearing the smile that can light up a room, and watching over us with your kind eyes. I remember you. I see you.
There are a lot of things we can (and will) lose in life. The loss of memories of our departed loved ones is up to us. So today I choose to remember, and on the days when remembering hurts I hope I remember today, and the pain caused by the thought of not having those memories. As much grief as memories might sometimes bring to the surface, having them with the hurt is, by far, better than the pain of not having any precious memories at all.
You can read about my journey through grief after the loss of a loved one to suicide here.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide please reach out,
someone is always listening. You are not alone.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
Have you lost a loved one to suicide and need a resource?
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention can help.