Forgetfulness, and what to remember

Our family is experiencing an onslaught of forgetfulness.  Not one or two of us…all of us.  When I use that word, family, I mean everyone in our inner circle, for we consider all of them/us, family.

We know the many physiological reasons for this forgetfulness, but were unprepared to confront it, given our circumstances before Owen died.  (Who among our friends and family had time to commit to something that did not have a practical application?)  His death forced us to look at the things we needed to remember, and allowed us to forget those things we could disinvite from our limited capacities.

My world became smaller once the coroner’s report was complete, and turned over to me in print form.  The information was disappointing, yet unsurprising, being “undetermined”.  I have no faith in the systems we’ve set up as a society in a feable effort to provide answers to questions no one wants to investigate at the level of “commitment”.  Does that mean I don’t find blame a worthy cause?  No.  It means I want to transform my energies currently targeted at finding blame, into energies rather well-spent, finding peace, joy, and comfort.  Do I believe I will find these things, given the unanswered questions about Owen’s death?  No…again.  I would, indeed, spend all of my time and energy on finding out the truth, if I thought I could.  I am hopeful it will come, someday, somehow, but I am not naive.

What it does mean, is that I have to keep searching.  Not only for the counterbalance to blame, but also, for the answers.  I ask daily, for help.  My answers are often empty, often capable of creating more questions, actually.

While the song for tonight, is not actually a song, I think of most poetry as “song”.  They are not terribly different.  You can memorize a poem in much the same way as a song, but for some reason, melody ties us to a significant part of our mechanical memory, and once the first chord is struck, the words come flowing in.  Not always so with poetry. 

This rendition of Billy Collin’s poem, “Forgetfulness”, affords us the opportunity to tap into that mechanical memory by way of visual components, much like melodies, but more tied to a monitor (or a book) – not likely to happen while driving down the freeway, listening to your radio.

I shared this video with a four-year-old today, expecting her (Ruby) to become bored quickly and ask for a cartoon video.  She did not.  She liked this visual poem, and asked me to play it again – twice.  How does a four-year-old relate to this poem?  I’m not sure, but she did. 

Owen liked this video when I played it for him back in March of this year.  He understood the forgetfulness brought on by the stressors of daily life, and watched as though the poem was a mantra.  He, by that time in his life, had forgotten plenty.  Don’t we all? 

Does this in any way tie into Halloween?  Not really, and absolutely.  Halloween is our cultural activity of chasing away evil spirits (and hoping for pillow cases full of candy), and for many of us, forgetfulness can seem evil, for it takes away memories of our loved ones.  What could be more cruel? 

I suggest we make every attempt at chasing away forgetfulness, and that requires a fair amount of effort, of energy, of commitment.  All those things, that have not been afforded our family in finding out what happened to Owen, in fact.  Do yourselves a favor, and chase away the evil of uncaring, uninterested law enforcement agencies.  They do not deserve our time, if they can’t commit to a viable outcome.

The references to swimming, riding a bicycle, and love poems, bring up visions of Owen’s life, and his demise.  I don’t want to forget his aversion to water, falling off a bicycle, and his connection to love poems.  Let them not be erased from my memory…please.  What do I want to remember?  Everything.

Song (poem) for the night:  Forgetfulness, Billy Collins


~ by Linda on October 22, 2007.

3 Responses to “Forgetfulness, and what to remember”

  1. You have captured all the emotions which I had felt at a time of bereavement (even though it was over 20 years ago) there is always a part of the mind which continues on this road.

    A deeply moving and thoughtful post..

  2. I love this video. Wait… what did I say? Oh yeah, the video, what was it about? Um,I think I remember watching this,,,um, what is it called…video…yeah, Hey, I love this video.

  3. So amazing-the mind. How does it decide what to remember and what to forget? I have a theory that the predominant things override the insignificant, but then I find myself singing a song with silly lyrics that simply mean nothing, and I wonder why I would remember a thing such as that, after all these years. Things that were long forgotten can be retrieved by the chill of an autumn night, or a melody floating from the radio. There are things I’d rather forget, but can’t. Things I long to remember, but can’t. And so it makes me wonder how the mind works. Why does it choose to remember the things it does, and to forget others? And where are all those files stored that come tumbling to the forefront every once in awhile. Is the person who has no memory blessed or cursed? I rather think cursed, because as much as there are things I’d like to forget, I cherish the ability to remember the things I hold dear. Lonnie

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