I woke up from a dream today, in tears, realizing I had forgotten about the loss of a loved one.
In the dream, this person was alive and well, and I thought to myself, how come I never ask for them when I call? The answer was a grim one: because they’re no longer there. The thought woke me instantly.
How is it that we are able to forget loss so readily? What was once complete devastation, now feels like a bad dream. The person we miss, almost a character from a novel we once read. And it is but every once in a while, that their memory creeps up to the surface of our brain, like a ghost not wanting to be forgotten, reminding us of their importance. They may come up in dreams, they may come up on special dates, or maybe a photograph found while reorganizing our drawers. Whatever the means, they make sure we remember. And suddenly, the loss floods back into our brains and hearts, and falls out our eyes like waterfalls.
It would be quite impossible to go through life this way: weeping at every sight that reminds us of them; wanting to shrivel up whenever the smell of their home filtered in through the cracks; breaking down with any movie that slightly brushed on death. It makes sense that our brains would want to protect us from our pain. What a simple way to do it, too! Just put the loss on a shelf in the attic of our minds, as other events pile up around it, the loss will become a memory. In our busy lives with little time to reflect and be quiet, those memories will become dusty and be temporarily forgotten.
Of course, like a horcrux in the Room of Requirement, certain memories carry a different weight and linger. I know that by the time I finish writing this, that memory will be back on its shelf, starting to get dusty again. I wouldn’t be able to get on with the day, otherwise. Much less continue to have a fulfilling life. I would be riddled by guilt at being happy when my loved one is no longer here to be happy with me. Joy would feel like a betrayal.
So, as I curled up in bed weeping this morning, I thanked my merciful, forgetful brain.
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