All We Hold Dear

This is the anniversary of the death of the person I loved best in the world. As anyone who has had the best taken away knows, there is as much bewilderment as pain left behind. How can my world exist like this? Like the title of the book (not the book itself), Atlas Shrugged it seemed the world resettled in a recognizable but alien form – a little like The Twilight Zone of reality.

But there is much that can be recognized as the same. Starbucks still makes a good latte, starlings still murmurate, fireworks on the 4th still electrify my vision, Christmas carols still lift my heart and stir a host of good memories. My heart is a scrapbook of my life, the pages each turning to show a crystalline moment that helped make me.

So let me beg a self-indulgent moment to write about those crystalline moments that are perfect in my memory.

I remember sitting at the top of a high, high tree, swaying with the breeze, looking without fear over hundreds of rooftops with never a thought that I could fall. Now I get the willies when I climb a stepladder.

I remember giggling in church with my best friend until the pew shook so much that we had to sneak out the back under a storm of reproachful looks.

I remember trying to force the ring on my husband’s finger so hard he yanked his hand back during the ceremony.

I remember looking at the hopeful desperation in my abused rescue dog’s eyes when I took him home for the first time.

I remember smelling roses in my garden while my kids played, hearing their shouting and laughing as the background to exquisite scent.

I remember the squeak of snow when it was too cold to build a snowman. All the balls we rolled fell apart, so instead we picnicked outside on a blanket and guzzled hot chocolate.

I remember believing that if I did the right thing the world would go on as it should and everyone would be able to have those crystal memories of life worth living.

Recently one of my friends posted on Facebook that she just wanted to see happy things. Don’t we all. But when you have experienced deep unhappiness, it’s not hard to see how fragile the dream of normal is. It’s not hard to see that such possibilities can be ripped from others. Can be ripped from those you love.

I have been haunted by some of the terrible happenings in the world – the ones where people choose to harm others for their own gain or ideology. I am stupefied that anyone would think that their passions or desires would outweigh evil and harm.

So instead, I hold dear the tiny moments that make up the true reality of my life. From the uncounted millions of memories of all of us, we create our lives and our actions. These are the jigsaw puzzle pieces that created me and you and the universe we exist in. These are the bulwarks that protect us all from the abyss.

Each of us has a right to cherish those things we hold dear – the memories, actions and loves – in the sure knowledge of who we must be.