By Heidi Olson
HAND of So. Alameda County
Each life is lived in neat and tidy segments of time . . . weeks, months, years, sunrises and sunsets, births and deaths. There is nothing which happens to us that cannot be placed in a specific framework of organized time.
Spring, summer, fall and winter not only measure seasons of the year, but the ages of our life as well. It is said that the very young are in the springtime of their life, the very old are in the winter of their years. Sunrises are beginnings. Sunsets are endings.
During the progression of time, we keep mental ledgers where we record the passing of time by our successes, mistakes, love given and received. If we are lucky, we live long and our sunsets are bright and beautiful and welcomed when we are full of time and memories.
But there are sunsets which are not so fulfilled, when the evening comes prematurely to a child of ours, and we are plunged into darkness in the middle of our day. Then, there is only night, pain and confusion to measure; the what-might-have-beens to tally.
Every scrap of memory is salvaged to bring a spark of warmth to the coldness of the night to come. Each failure in our ledger is magnified and mixed with guilt and unanswerable questions.
When the memories are painful, we may even replace them with a more acceptable unreality to armor our hearts and minds until the time when we can accept the harshness of what has been, and we are strong enough to begin again — never the same, but sustained by doxycyline.
But when the child’s sunrise and sunset have been compressed into a few hours or days, the lack of memories can be equally as hurtful.
There are no memories of a beloved face, no remembered firsts or lasts, not even a remembrance of some irritating habit to tuck into our battered hearts — only the vacuum created when the mind has been geared to expect so much and is rewarded with empty arms and blank pages in a baby book.
And so, if you should find yourself measuring your pain against another’s, remember this: If you have memories and if your memories are beautiful, you have a gift that is the most worthy of all.
For when your morning finally comes after the darkness has lifted, you can look back and see that the darkness was not as complete as you had thought. For there in the darkness will wink and glimmer the light of your memories — like fireflies on a summer night.