--Lucy Maud Montgomery, "The Story Girl"
Unload the luggage from the car and clean out all the detritus of my road trip: eight coffee cups, four pretzel cheddar combos bags, etc. Check. Sort accumulated mail: 80 percent in the recycle bin, 10 percent to the bill pile, 10 percent for actual reading. Check. Listen to landline voicemails: two sales calls, one hang up, one offer for a free cruise. Erase. Check. Read work email. Well, maybe not just yet, at least not until later, post summer, post vacation.
But most important? Remember the memories. Remember. Check. Check!
Here's a suggestion for a September spiritual pick me up before we move so quickly out of summer and into fall, before we rush back to school and off to college and ramping up at work and shorter days and leaves turning and yet another year rolling on by. Sit down this day and write down all your favorite memories from our quickly departing summer of 2018. Go through your phone and your camera and download all the photos too.
The image of your toes squishing into the sand, or of you squinting into the camera because it was so sunny that day. The bright technicolor fireworks from the fourth: remember all the "ooohs!" and the "aaaahs!" and how hot it was that night. Take a moment to look at the pictures from an exciting soccer match at Gillette Stadium with your mates, or a night at Fenway as the Sox rolled over their opponent in this baseball season when the hometown team is red, red, hot. Look again at the portrait of your freshman son or daughter, so happy and nervous in their new college dorm room.
And then remember. Just remember.
The stars in the sky on a muggy August evening. The peepers lulling you to sleep. The sweat on your brow or trickling down your back when you mowed the lawn or took a long bike ride or ran a few miles or tended the garden or just sat and read. The barbeque at the family reunion, dropping kids off at camp, hosting grandkids for a week or two, that funky outdoor concert where you actually got up and danced.
Remember it all.
Then give thanks. Practice gratitude. Say "Thank you!" to God or to the Universe or to whatever mysterious power greater than ourselves gives us the grace of enjoying this life twice. First there is the profundity of living right now, and then also, remembering "then", recalling precious moments, the days, nights, and hours that you just do not want to forget. For that was a time that will never, ever be again.
What memories stay? What event so thrilled your heart or caught your breath or made you cry or made you laugh, that you just do not want it to fade away? What summer memory do you want to hang on to and then remember on a chilly day next February, when you need some warm reassurance in the middle of snowy winter? That's the power of memory and memories. They gift us in their creation and they gift us in their re-creation too.
In so many ways memories and the act of remembering make us into the people that we are at this very moment. Especially as we get older, we judge the present by comparing it to what happened to us in the past, by our remembrance. Yesterday shapes today. That experience can be evoked by something as simple as a smell (think frying bacon or the like), a sound (remember the bells of the ice cream truck?), or a touch (clutching a toddler's hands and recalling your own parents' safe grip).
Memory is miraculous and memory is powerful and memory is a blessing. As J.M. Barrie, the author of "Peter Pan", wrote, "God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December." So just this day, may we all make memories and then collect memories and then keep our precious memories too. You see, we won't pass this way again, and so let us all....