Sunday, December 19, 2010

Moments and Memories

This is not the way I remember it
How long is a moment? Fifteen seconds? Fifteen minutes? How long is a memory? Forever? I looked out the window to see the sun reflecting off the brilliant green moss on a tree in the backyard. The hills, looking toward the Sierras, were golden as the storm clouds finally broke. I thought, "I will capture this moment with a camera and make it permanent." I walked 20 feet, affixed a lens and back to the door. Maybe 45 seconds had passed and now the tree looked gray as the clouds had again shifted. Somehow I delude myself in thinking a memory is something solid or fixed, or that a moment can be held unchanged with a photo or a video. Yesterday, while sorting through pictures from the last year, I happened on to a photo that I got from my mom's camera. The image showed me in a hospital bed with my brother, Daren, and my sister Leslie standing near the head of the bed wearing full gown and mask. I was shocked to see myself. The picture was taken while I was in septic shock after the bone marrow transplant. My kidneys were not yet working, so that the 5 liters of fluid they used to resuscitate me were still visible in my face. My left eye was bloody from a vessel I burst while vomiting. I attempted a smile, but was quite unconvincing. I looked at the photo and realized that I didn't remember looking like this. Not so much the physical appearance, more so the fatigue I now saw in my countenance. Somehow, my memory had softened the experience as I originally saw it.  I realized that memories can subtly shift as do the hues reflected off the moss covered bark. The tree doesn't change; just the way we see it.

A moment is not defined by time, rather what an experience feels like in the immediate.We grab urgently at dandelions already on the wind exclaiming, "This moment is so precious, I must hold onto to it forever," as I frantically adjust the focus and see it through a viewfinder only to find that the feeling has already passed.
Last night, Caitlin performed with a group that did a Christmas show with dancing and singing. I had no idea that she could dance so well. However, my early Christmas present came on the final number as she stepped forward to sing the solo on "Sing Noel." Her voice was angelic. I didn't even know she had a solo. I sat overcome with emotion as the moment washed over me. I am sure that someone videotaped it and I could watch it again. I know I would enjoy that. But I could never recapture that moment of surprise and wonder; it was enough.

The last year has been wonderful, yet relatively normal with regard to my health. I find myself more and more occupied with the responsibilities at work which consequently occupy more of my thoughts. I actively must remind myself to 'find the beauty in every day'. The memory of what it felt like two years may be changing. But how can I really know that since memory is all we have and it is not static. What I do know is that there are more surprises and wonders that lay before us. New moments and new memories. We must never cease to be amazed. Pause; savor the feeling.



Wendy said...

Beautiful essay! I love this one!

On a side note, I have a dear friend that was just diagnosed with bladder cancer, this week. She is a stoic woman that would never complain or even talk about herself for more than 2 seconds. Would you ever be willing to answer any of her questions via phone? I haven't offered this to her, yet because I know that is a lot to ask of you. But, you are such a rare combination of smart and poetic. I think anyone would get so much out of a conversation with you.

Brooke Trogdon said...

Love the way you describe everything. What a beautiful message.

Vasca said...

Moments and memories are awesome...truly awesome. True, pics are reminders...but as you said there's nothing like 'that awesome moment'...nothing.

I'm thankful you are doing well and absorbed in your good work. Michael (my husband) is doing so well with 'His Amy' is seemingly localized and not moving around (at least for the time being) and we pray that continues.

God is so good to us, we are blessed every day in so many of those is that we forget he has Amyloidosis; wonderful.

Thanks for putting such meaning into wonderful moment...thank you!

carolyn said...

Ditto for me too on your message and description. It was great to meet you and Barbie in person at the transplant christmas party!!!!!!

leslie said...

wow how time flies by I will remember that day forever when you were septic I must admit i am very proud when people ask how you are doing that it is about your trips and work. Because it is about living your life and containing the amylodsis love and miss you guys leslie

Aunt Renie said...

Dear Kevin, you are ever gracefilled no matter what! Your care for others shines thru. But I'm so glad you have had so many good moments and memories. What treasures to keep forever!