When I suddenly lost my father in April 2020, a terrifying thing happened. I suddenly couldn't access any of the memories we had together. My memory of him was reduced to a flash of his face the last time I saw him on repeat any time I closed my eyes. I was devastated. I had lost him in the world and at the same time lost him in my memories.
However, in the months that followed, my memories returned. One by one, I could feel them returning. The memories all slowly came back to me - flicking stones off of a cement wall into the water below to make a song out of the 'plink' 'plink' of the stones as they hit the water, the memories of walking in the arroyos together, the memories of picking out movies at the tiny glowing Blockbuster in our small town every Friday night. Now that I am approaching 2 years without my father, I am still retrieving more and more memories.
Every time a new one pops up, I take the opportunity to sink into it and place myself back in that moment. I appreciate every sweet detail. I take those returning memories as one way to continue to understand my dad and know him better. I make a habit of reaching out to any other characters in my memory. I want to remember with them, and more often than not they can offer me a new perspective of dimension to the story. In the time without my dad, I have continued to learn so much about him. I can still find him here in our collective memory of this wonderful curious person who we were lucky to know.
Beyond the memories we share, I find him in other places as well. I can find my dad in the music we enjoyed together. I can wear his big boots out into the snow when I play with my son. I can share pictures of him and pass down his stories. I can cook his favorite meals, and lovingly convince everyone I care about to eat cabbage on New Years Day so that they have good luck in the coming year.