Being the rememberer

A friend recently lost her 20-year old daughter. She posted a quote, and for the life of me I can’t recall the quote, only the idea of “being the rememberer”. I think about this often especially in those middles of the night where sleep is a distant hope: someone has to bear witness.

In any given day I may bear witness to a newspaper headline, animals left on the side of the road after a sudden encounter with a car, dead or dying loved ones, a kid dropping her hotdog with ketchup in the cafeteria at work. And also to the sparks that fly at the very edge of fireworks, the first glacier lily, or the beauty of 200 voices raised together in song.

Being the rememberer in the context of my friend’s post had everything to do with being left here to cope with the death of her child. How does she carry on? How does one day pass into the other into a week month years? When do you begin to lose the immediacy of your child’s needs or the smell of his hair, the feel of her hand? How to carry on?

I think with a job: the job of bearing witness. Not my favorite but one that I’ve taken up with gusto. Look at that! Watch this! Here the world turns day by day and if we don’t pay exquisite attention to the thing of beauty like a life or a flower or the flash of sun on river, it will pass anyway and we’ll miss it.

I am being the rememberer.

“…if we don’t pay exquisite attention to the thing of beauty like a life or a flower or the flash of sun on river, it will pass anyway and we’ll miss it.