I love to write memoir. I usually write it in present tense, as if the event is occurring.
The nurse wheels me out of x-rays. I am trying so hard to not cry from pain and fear when I see him standing there in the exam room. He has something in his hands . . .
My Baby Ann doll. Smudged face, short white hair in cowlicks now, from lying so long in the toy box.
Despite my pain, I’m suddenly irritated: I can’t believe he brought Baby Ann! I don’t play with her anymore. Not since I was eight, last year. I want to say Daddy, I am too old for dolls now, don’t you know?
But I look at his face, I see the worry, because of me, because of my arm that the doctor is getting ready to pull and pull, to set the bones . . . and something inside me twists, gives way. I start to cry for Daddy because he’s trying to help me and doesn’t know how. I cry for me, for the pain about to intensify at the doctor’s hands and I don’t know how much.
I even cry for Baby Ann and her smudges and cowlicks.
When I write like this, I am there. It is happening. I see the exam room. I remember my red shirt with ruffled sleeves, ruined by plaster of Paris so that I could never wear it again. I see my father’s face contort, turn grayish-green, when I scream during the torturous pulling of my broken left arm to set it. I see that old doll, so vividly, in Daddy’s hands.
As I write it, see it, relive it, I think, How beautiful, Daddy.
I didn’t think any such thing at the time. Nor did he.
Which brings me to now and the idea of recognizing moments as they occur.
I saw the sign at the top of this post in a shop today. When you’re in the throes of a daily writing challenge, you learn to look everywhere for ideas. I took a picture of the sign as soon as I saw it.
I knew, in that moment, I’d write about it. Somehow.
Because that statement about living in the moment and making it so beautiful that it’s worth remembering speaks on two levels. Worth remembering in order to write about, of course. And being fully present for the people in your life. It is a call to be mindful, to savor every moment together. Moments typically aren’t as beautiful alone. Certainly not in being together and feeling alone (read “UNPLUG,” if you wish).
Memories will live, yes.
But what makes them so beautiful is how we live our now. Be present now. Make time now.
For we don’t know how many minutes we have.
-Do we, Daddy.