There’s a big country park across the road from our home. An interesting place with forest areas and ponds and hills, and loads of early blackberries at the moment. There used to be a visitor centre but it was burned down some years back. Next to that vacant space, there is still a small children’s playground.
I walked by it today. It didn’t look as appealing as it did before, due to the hot dry summer and the parched ground, but the equipment is still there.
As I passed by, a memory came to me that was incomplete. Did I remember talking with Catherine about how nice it would be, when she had children, to bring them here? Catherine had visited us a few times in the year since we had moved into the area – the year before she died. So we might have had that conversation.
Or was it Catherine who had said it herself?
Or, is it something I’ve thought about over the years of walking in the park?
I absolutely cannot say for sure. I have no way of being certain. I suppose it doesn’t matter too much; remembering will not change the reality that Catherine will never visit the park again, and she had no children before her death, so they will not be visiting either.
We might think we will never forget the conversations and everything that was important about our loved one, but time does muddle up our thoughts, and what we expected would always be clear can become hazy.
My conclusion from this is that it’s an important part of grief work to actively preserve memories.
Not just organising photos, but captioning them.
Writing down the little things that come to us. The conversations that were important.
Making a scrap book of important words and moments.
It can be very difficult and very painful, but in the long run we may well be glad that we worked on this.
Some more ideas for preserving memories:
About this story:
For 19 captivating seconds, Abigail Harvey’s family listen intently to the song of a robin. They’re sitting in the sunshine of the memorial garden at the hospice where Abigail spent many happy hours.
Ty Hafan’s children’s hospice, just along the coast from Barry Island in south Wales, holds a special place in their hearts. And now, as part of a remarkable new sound installation, the names of more than 300 children who were cared for there will be celebrated in the form of birdsong. (Continued here)