memory, bone, soul

I felt a cleaving in my mind
        As if my brain had split;
I tried to match it, seam by seam,
       But could not make them fit.
The thought behind I strove to join
       Unto the thought before, ,
But sequence ravelled out of reach
        Like balls upon a floor.
Emily Dickinson


She wears a diamante choker with her nightgown, in the hospital bed. And that's where I find her, in that jewellry, and in the way she doesn't care it's completely inappropriate, since it makes her feel nice. I can't find her clearly anywhere else - not in the evanescent memories or the things she says that she'd never have let out of her mouth before. There are some small rare moments when she is truly cognizant, and that's the worst of all, because the awfulness of it comes back to her, until thankfully suddenly she is drifting once more on the gentle, luminous tide of her soul.




It seems to me that memory and selfhood are not reliant on each other. Infact, I wonder if sometimes our memories can get in the way of us being who we really are inside. But they do of course anchor us to our lives - not only the past, but also the future. What I never realised before is how much other people relate to us in the context of our own memory. There's a unique grief in talking with a loved one who doesn't remember who you are. And a unique gift too in being able to be with them outside of relationship : a chance to just love them, love them, be kind to them, help them, without recognition. It's not often we get to be so truly free in our loving.




She asked me half a dozen times about the day outside. And the more she asked, the more my heart shone. It's beautiful, I told her. Such a blue sky, such calm sunlight, and yet not too hot. It's a perfect day. How blessed I was in having the opportunity to describe that day to her over and again, each time bringing her happiness. It was almost like being a goddess and making the world anew, every ten minutes, in absolute gorgeousness.

And I found her there too : in my love for her, and the image of the day I told her just so that I could watch her smile. She sighed with memories she did not remember and yet that unfurled a lovely autumn morning in her mind.




C.S. Lewis says each of us is "not a body with a soul, but a soul with a body." I've always agreed with that. But I have come to wonder if our body is only one of the things our soul attaches itself too. Maybe this soul, spirit, self, is a dancing, drifting thing, some of it living in our minds, and some of it in other people's minds, and some of it in the dream of a beautiful blue sky ...



Images by the extraordinary Mirjam Appelhof.

7 comments:

  1. It sounds like someone you love is struggling with memory. Thank you for writing about this.

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  2. It sounds like someone you love is struggling with memory. Thank you for writing about this.

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  3. I am always undone by you and your way. Thank you. xo

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  4. This is such a beautifully poignant post. Memory is such a fickle entity, and we need it for so much. It is so hard to watch someone struggle with such a loss.

    And these images, hauntingly fabulous.

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  5. You are flinging love wide open to reach the farthest horizons. Thank you for this.

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  6. "I wonder if sometimes our memories can get in the way of us being who we really are inside." Yes, I consider this as well.

    wonderful:
    Maybe this soul, spirit, self, is a dancing, drifting thing, some of it living in our minds, and some of it in other people's minds, and some of it in the dream of a beautiful blue sky ...

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  7. Life is such a tangle of difficulty and love. ((((Hugs)))). Thinking of you today.♥

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