A few years after I moved to Colorado, my mother told me my grandmother had started forgetting things, repeating herself, and one day, she nearly backed her car into someone because she forgot to look behind her. So, Ma moved to Colorado to live with my mom.
Yesterday in class, my students and I discussed the function of memory in multiple modes of storytelling: fiction, nonfiction, and metafiction.
Dealing with death has never been easy for me. When my aunt died, I was 14 and we were on vacation in Tennessee. Due to a series of events, I never attended any of her viewings before the funeral. For years, around the anniversary of her death, I would have dreams where she and I would talk. I don’t have those dreams anymore. I’m afraid that, like my dreams and memories of my aunt, my memories of my grandmother’s life will fade, replaced by the memories of her passing and funeral. I’m afraid I won’t have dreams where we talk.
My grandmother’s funeral and burial were in Maryland on Tuesday morning, and that night I slept in my bed in Colorado. Though the weather tried its best to prove uncooperative, I managed to fly home within hours of the graveside service.
I have never before written as a method of healing. Well, unless you count the “poetry” I wrote as a young teenager, which at this point I wouldn’t, even if André Maurois says it is a way to “give expression in the written word to emotions or the ideas which people and things have aroused in” me. I suppose I’ve always thought it best to maintain a safe distance from what I feel rather than share it in a way that makes it permanent. I’ve avoided journaling for the same reason. Withholding feelings from paper, rejecting their permanence, is safer. At least that’s what I thought.