When Story was eight months old, I began to write to her every night. It was my way of releasing that emotional energy that had built up throughout the day. There was just such a mashup of love, frustration, fear, awe, and excitement that at times my heart felt like it would burst. So I wrote. Every day. I tried to capture her story. I tried to capture Story. Of course, there were times when I was so exhausted (aka Mom Brain) that I could hardly put a sentence together, so I just made a list of what her favorite things of the day were. But even those lists were a snapshot of her life, recorded for later days when I want to revisit those early years or perhaps when Story has her own children.
I wrote to her for her. I didn’t write to remember. I couldn’t imagine ever forgetting that we had a Skippyjon Jones marathon that week in July or that when she was ten months old, she stood on her own for seven seconds and laughed for five minutes after because she was so proud. These moments were so very important and emotionally charged that they could never slip from my mind. But they did. I didn’t realize how much until this weekend.
Ali had to travel for work, so the girls stayed with me Friday night and Saturday. Story was at her dad’s for the weekend, so it was just Riley, Maddie, and me (and the dogs, of course). Bonding time! I was so excited to make some new memories with them, and I hoped they would have as much fun as I would. The girls did seem to have fun, but for me, it was a bittersweet experience I really had not expected.
In that short timeframe, I was blasted with so many sensory memories that had long lay dormant that I suffered prolong inflammation of emotion. Maddie holding her arms to be picked up, with that look of expectation, made me flash to Story at that age and my immediate response of picking her up just to hold her close. Tiny, sharp Riley elbows to my back as I tried to fall asleep caused me to wonder how I ever got any sleep with Story’s flailing limbs and the six inches of mattress she allowed me to have. The weight of Maddie on my hip as I cleaned the kitchen counter made me remember how I could run a household with just one hand. Hearing Riley’s independent play made me feel a twinge of loss, remembering when I realized that Story didn’t need me as much anymore.
All of these long-forgotten characteristics of their ages made me realize that I can’t possibly do justice to Story’s story without a transfer of sensory memories. Her story is to be experienced, and I am so grateful that I am a part of it. These characteristics also made me appreciate Riley and Maddie even more. While the characteristics were the same, the girls’ expression of them were entirely their own. And I am so thankful to Ali, Riley, and Maddie for letting me experience parts of their story as well. The memories may fade, but that stamp of emotion always remains.