days like these

Saturday, 22 February 2014

I am currently pinned to the sofa with a baby milk-drunkenly-asleep on me. She had her last set of jabs before she turns one yesterday, and it was the worst so far. The screaming was awful and the look of pure horror on her face as the nurse did the second injection (with the warning of 'this one is a bit stingier') feels as though it is forever burned into my retinas, and I may have nipped to Sainsbury's afterwards with watery-eyes-and-wobbling-bottom-lip for emergency chocolate.

Anyway, she's super sleepy today, as she tends to be after injections, but at least I had the forethought to bring the laptop over to the sofa, and therefore I finally have time to blog.

Chris jokes that I have a weird ability to remember details about the silliest of things - conversations we had years ago, almost word-for-word, what the weather was like at the time. Odd things. I am able to recall a special moment pretty well, but the pay off is that my capacity for remembering other things (like the names of bands ... and actors ... and films ... and countries ... and, er, people) is not so great.

I was thinking about this recently, about moments in your life that stick in your memory like little beacons. Good, bad, bittersweet. Why do certain things linger for years in your mind, waiting for a trigger like a song or a certain scent to be recalled, when others just disappear? Recently I've been trying to be a bit more purposeful in remembering little things, but mostly I rely on writing them down or photographing them. Because I know that in the end, there will be some things that stick and some that don't. I might get the most beautiful days on film, preserved forever, but when I look back on them I barely remember anything about them. I don't remember how I felt, I don't remember what happened before and after, I don't remember what words were spoken. But other days just stick. I recall them and they come back with sharp focus.

I like that. I like that life has its little moments that stick, and that those moments are different for everyone. And I'm not talking about the big days - marriages, births, deaths - huge moments that encompass a million different emotions and feel almost too big to contain in one person - I'm talking about the little moments that stick out amongst the mundane. The days that teach you lessons, that change you, that help you to grow. The days that you treasure in your heart.

Days like when I was on holiday in Cornwall with friends as a kid, and Mum and Dad forgot about bedtime and took us to the beach to watch the sunset, and as we ran into the sea and leapt about in the sand bathed in fiery golden light, I remember feeling so young and free and alive and wishing the night would never end.

Like the day that a horrible, suffocating, twisted, terrible relationship came to an end, the day when he shouted 'If you walk away from me right now, that's it, it's over', and the feeling I had when I turned and walked, the exhilarating feeling that I'd never until that day done anything that felt so purposeful or meant so much, the feeling that each step I took was a step closer to freedom, to a clear head and a new beginning.

Like the moment when Chris and I were first going out, and he went off to uni, and I missed him, and had to deal with a lot of emotional stuff while he was gone. I was at work, it was five minutes to closing time, and I was folding up what seemed like an endless pile of jumpers and picking clothes up from from the floor (to this day I can't leave clothes in the wrong place in a shop without terrible guilt). I was thinking about the fact that Chris was coming home tomorrow for a visit, and how I just wanted this day to be over. And then I looked up and he was standing there, slightly breathless having ran all the way from the train station, having got the train a day early to surprise me. And I felt like my insides might melt (that's a good thing) and as I looked at him in surprise two thoughts popped into my eighteen-year-old head, pure and clear statements of truth: He really loves me, this is what love is actually like and I'm going to spend the rest of my life with this man.

Or the day that I found out I was losing my job, and we'd already been struggling with money for over a year, and in a fury I whirled around the flat tidying up, and I couldn't get a pillowcase on properly (onto a pillow - not myself. Obviously if I attempted that it would cause problems), and I just had this breakdown and threw it across the room and cried at God. Why is this always happening to us? Why do other people get money and houses just plopped into their laps and we have to pray and pray and pray and still we end up in the same place as before? Etc, etc. And then after lots of tears, walking away with some firm words that have stuck ever since: I bless people in different ways. I will allow you to go through things sometimes because I need you to realise something. But I love you so much and I am with you in this. And I realised both how selfish and helpless I am, and experienced the strange freedom that comes with being aware of that, and ever since then I count my blessings every single day and if I catch myself acting spoilt, I remember that moment when I realised that blessings aren't just limited to financial gain and in many ways, I am hugely blessed (including financially, when I get my head out of the sand long enough to look at struggling families around me, but that's a whole other blog post in itself).

Or when, a year or so later, things had changed so massively that we were able to go to California to visit friends, and when we arrived at their apartment after a ten hour flight feeling quite ready to sample some of America's finest fast food, I sat down and for the first time in months of feeling quite tense and stressed I felt myself properly relax, like every muscle was unfurling in my body and I turned into a happy jelly on the sofa.

Or the day, most recently, when Baby B burst out crying in her sleep. I scooped her up and popped her on the bed and we lay there, her in the middle, us looking at her and feeling so tired and wondering how we were going to get her to sleep again. And she stopped crying, and turned to me, and put one little pudgy hand on my cheek, and then she turned to Chris, looked at him, and put her other hand on him. And then, peacefully, she closed her eyes and fell asleep. I've never known anything like it, as bedtimes are normally a bit of a fight, and Chris and I could do nothing but just stare at her in amazement, and I felt like I could burst with love for her, our little girl who maybe just needed the reassurance that we were still there.

I love that God gives me the ability to remember these moments. I think there's a reason we remember these little things. Whether it be a reminder that we are loved, that we have the ability to be tough and brave, that God walks with us in every joy and every problem, or just to bring us happiness - a reminder, especially on the dull days, that life has the capacity to be dazzling, wonderful, brilliant, that to be alive is a blessing.

These moments are like talismans we hold up in the dark. I know I am loved. I know I am not alone. I know I can walk through this because I've done braver things before.

And the best thing about memories like these? The way that our lives entwine with others. They remind me that God put me here, in this specific place, in this specific time, with these specific people, and that the way we interact with each other is sometimes strange, sometimes hurtful, but often wonderful, and I wouldn't change my circumstances for anything.

And they remind me that there are many more memories to be made, and you never know when the next one is going to come.

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