The Sustenance of Memories

It’s kind of a small word: memories, isn’t it. Subtle, unobtrusive, soft. It doesn’t barge into the conversation and demand attention. We let it slip into our dialogue unnoticed, slide glibly from tongues, in trite cliches.

Holidays are about making memories, we say.

Hang onto the memories, we urge.

But do we? Do we actually pay enough attention at the time to retain the experience? To file it carefully so that it can be easily recalled when we need it? Or are we too busy trying to capture it in the lens of a camera (as opposed to the aperture of our minds?) to actually pin it down for keeps?

This time last year my life was full fat. Home at the beach was fit to burst at the seams, everybody bunked up everywhere with everybody else. Meals were raucous occasions as the young descended on lunch like locusts on a field. There were never leftovers. You had to hide to find peace to read a book or snatch a nap.

This year the house is rackety empty. Beds still tightly, coldly made. Leftovers are all we eat. This year I must take my sustenance from last year’s memories – of noise and laughter and fights over card games, of a surfeit of presents and presence (this year there will be none of either in my home – ‘shall we just not do gifts?’ I say to Ant).

And then I find myself reaching into the furthest, darkest recesses of my mind, poking about in dark, dusty cerebral corners for the brightest shards of the past to illuminate a darker Christmas. I take my memories out then, the ones I didn’t know I’d stored or where I’d stored them for I didn’t know how badly I would need them or so soon.

And there they are. My children. The longing is visceral. So real I can almost taste the salt on my tongue and feel the sun on my skin. I can hear the drum of the surf and the whisper of the tide, as if I am holding a shell to my ear. I can smell the sea and if I hold still, if I concentrate really hard, if I still my breath and listen, yes, there is it: I can hear my children laughing.

One Response to “The Sustenance of Memories”

  1. Addy Says:

    What a lovely video to remind you in case the memories fail. Christmas will be strange for us all this year but hopefully next year will be twice as good. Far better to be without loved ones for one Christmas than to be without them forever.

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