It bothered me for many years.
I never understood why I had to carry this particular burden.
The burden of memory.
No matter how selective, no matter how much consumption of the world around me, the memory was mine and mine alone.
My mother could never be a reliable witness and my younger brother’s coma caused memory loss, to this day he remembers very little. I use to think him lucky. I, not only carried the burden of remembering, but always lacked the knowledge of why. Why do the memories conceived that Sunday morning have to be carried by me? For a while I thought it was my punishment. After all it couldn’t have been a reward, right?
It wasn’t fair, I thought. I would never put this burden of the mind on anyone. And it was lonely. It was so very lonely. The gruesome scene, which tore apart my sense of safety and shredded any happy moments that occurred in my home prior, replayed itself bit by terrifying bit on a daily basis in my mind. My life quickly became ridiculous, to me anyway, but it didn’t matter.
The awe and newness of sunshine, palm trees, and orange farms quickly dissipated. Trying to settle in a new place and meet new people always came with the agonizing question of where are you from. And yet again another rewind of flashbacks. My overly blunt responses, “she was murdered”, became a shield. That unfeeling, guarded mask of an answer seemed to stop the flood of memories, for a while, and any further questioning of my past. Saying it and not feeling it was a great deterrence for a short while. That is until I started to feel like I was living in a much sun shinier version of Boston. The walls were brighter but closing in all the same.
So let’s get a job and party on weekends and as much as possible. We needed a job or else how would we party?
If you’ve ever heard of a functional alcoholic then you can understand what I mean when I say by the time I was truly settled in Florida I was a functional partier. The only time I felt sane enough that my loneliness, insecurities, fears and memories didn’t attach me was when I could drown it, smoke it, and forcefully laugh it away. What a miserable time that was. What liars laughs can be. What dishonesty a smile hides. What turmoil dancing feet carry. She was murdered. Quick, simple truth that bear no feeling but held every emotion all at once. Most responded with blank, confused for a moment looks. Some with, “are you serious?” I couldn’t say which I preferred. Even now. No response could have made me feel any better in all honesty. Nothing could.
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
…I walked and talked through my lie, my fear-filled lie. The on point smile and just the right amount of laughter did more than just keep questions at bay. It enclosed my heart and prevented my eyes from truly seeing. He was there. All the while He was there.
…Tears form as I remember how much time I wasted in the pits that kept me shut off from my life, from my God.