Maybe I Don’t Want to Remember

There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief.” Aeschylus

Where is my father? Am I late for work? Is my brother still asleep? I should get him up. What happened to my mother? Where is your mother? Why do I live alone?

These and others like them are some of the questions my father asks me every day. When I remind him very bluntly that his parents, his brother, some of his sisters and my mother are dead, he looks at me with the vacancy of renewed grief and disbelief.

I used to skirt around these questions with wishy-washy responses such as you know or think about it for a minute and you’ll remember.  This was my way of avoiding any thought about past or future losses.

All these people are dead. He says incredulously. Why?

Again, I tiptoed around this question. Your parents lived a good long life. People sometimes get sick. There are no answers.

But with the steady stream of the same questions and the repeated conversations, I have become bolder. It’s going to happen to all of us one day, Dad.

Which is a truth I know I don’t want to face myself.

Why don’t I remember all these things? It’s the question that comes up over and over again during our discussions.

How old are you? I ask him. My father never falters. 88.

Sometimes people forget things as they get older, I say.

Maybe I don’t want to remember, he replies. It’s too hard to think about what I’ve lost.

He shakes his head in defiance. It only makes me sad.  

I know, I say as if I understand. I focus on the moment; ignore my worries about the future. It’s my only hope for coping.

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