Memories can both heal and hurt.

Memories touch me as much as I touch them. Depending on the texture of the touch I can gauge how far my healing has come…and how far my healing has yet to go.

Benjamin MemoriesIn my world of the Afterloss healing has no set pattern, no linear timeframe, no instruction manual that gets me from point A to point B, much less point Z. Yet, one of the major signposts along the way is the touch of a memory. Does it still hurt? How much does it hurt? Is the memory warm and tender to the touch? Does it sink me into deeper gratitude and settle into the serene?

Every memory has a different texture to the touch and each memory feels different on different days. To touch a memory measures of my moment in the blending of what was and what is.

Yesterday I touched many memories. I went to many sacred places for me. When I touch a memory I take into account the one who touches – me. My state of being in moment cannot be separated from the point and time I step back into. Like a chemical reaction of two major compounds (past plus present), it tells me just how much healing I have had and how much is yet to go.

My healing has a way to go, but I don’t really know what that means or where there is to go. I only know some sacred places still hurt and others have healed. The healing doesn’t mean I am done with that memory. It’s just the opposite. Healing means I carry that meaning in a different way into a different part of me. It colors my landscape of Afterloss in a different hue.

When the memory still hurts, it is telling me there is more to explore here. I cannot travel beyond here until it settles into healing. I must touch the pain in unconditional love. I must lean into the pain without pushing it away. I must feel my way through the ache and keep it fluid no matter what it brings up.

I did a lot of sitting in front of houses yesterday. Half Moon Bay was not just where I spread their ashes. That area was where I we planted memories in a life well lived.

One tiny apartment I sat in front of many times before was where we lived when Lydia first told me she was pregnant. I relived the excitement in her voice, the joy in her eyes and the sheer terror in my stomach. I was so scared at what kind of father I would be. I wanted to raise a child in ways I wasn’t, but I was afraid I didn’t know how. Lydia wanted to be a mother more than anything in the world. I wanted to love like she could love. The love of Matt came spontaneous to me, but it was Lydia that shaped how I could love the most.

I sat in my car looking through the closed blinds of the picture window, down the hall and into our bedroom. I heard her words again, felt her again, missed her again. Somewhere through the passage of time the texture of this memory has changed. The times of sitting in my car across from a little apartment that still holds a huge piece of me has gone from excruciating anguish to a place of healing gratitude.

Is there still an ache? Yes. Do I still miss her, and the reality that we cannot share that memory? Absolutely. Would I trade that memory for anything in the world? Never. Even if I could go back and time and change it all? Not even.

I cannot change the past. But the past has changed me. I touch a memory and the memory touches me. Memories hurt. Memories heal. Memories tell me how far I have come and how far I’ve yet to go. After all was said and done, I started the car and drove to the next memory just down the street.

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