My earliest memory is of something no one told me – as far as I am aware of.
When I started my nursing degree (which I did not finish), I was thrown into male oncology. Imagine a virginal, stupid as anything, 17-year old having to deal with terminally ill men (whose libido had not necessary diminished in relation to their life expectancy).
There was the famous former cricketer, whose throat cancer had eaten away his vocal cords. I talked to him about God, but he dismissed me. I thought I would have another go at it the next day. He had not died during the night, but he was was gasping for air when I got in. He was on oxygen, turning a strange bluish colour.
I ran into Sister Swart’s office, crying. She marched me right back to his bed to deal with his immediate needs. Turned out he did not need it any more.As nurses were dealing with the situation, I noticed a strange orange rubber pillow under the body’s buttocks.
The tears came flooding back, with memories. I’m pretty sure my biological dad had had such a thing under his bum. I could not be sure, though, because I was not even four when he died.
I think that might have strengthened my obsession with ascertaining facts, holding on to information, and – most annoyingly – holding on to things that had emotional memories attached to them.
A couple of years ago one of my sisters said that she had finally broken her obsession with counting things. I have yet to get there…
Ancè and Dedri have helped me tremendously in dealing with emotional attachment. The one says that I don’t have to decide what happens to the item after I decide I can let it go. The other says that I don’t have to physically possess the item to have the memories.
I’m quite proud of the fact that I had the enlightenment that – if I should forget about an item after I disposed of it – it really does not matter, because, well… I clearly did not remember it any more 🙂
When I was in London for the first time, the girls bought me a beautiful silk scarf and a handmade necklace. The jewellery was hand made – thin copper links and black beads strung together.
When I was visiting my cousin’s wife recently, a flood of tiny back beads came cascading down my body, disappearing into my deceased cousin’s rocker, under a bureau, and all over the place. I all but crawled on all fours, trying to recover as many of the beads as I could. Even that evening, when I undressed, beads tumbled out. For a moment I frantically tried to recover them, then I had a huge breakthrough.
I could remember the joy I felt when they gave the necklace to me. I could remember the feeling of the beautifully crafted beadwork under my fingers as I touched it when it was around my neck. I could remember my admiration of the craftmanship of the maker. So what if I don’t have it anymore? I still possess it! I still possess the memories of it. And – should I ever forget that – it won’t matter, because, well… I clearly won’t remember it any more 🙂