The one thing that social media, mainly Facebook, has forced me to do is to remember. Facebook “Memories” in the form of photos that I recurringly stumble upon from my own past or family’s history, pop up like a sweet surprise from the days gone by. I look upon old black and white photos of my grandparents and think how life must have been for them. I gaze upon my childhood holiday pictures and remember how much I looked forward to that time of year. I can even close my eyes and smell the moth balls that emanated from the wooden storage box that I longed to see brought in from the garage. My dad repurposed an old citrus crate into a box where we would store our Christmas lights and decorations. For whatever reason, that old box brings back more great memories than any present I ever received. Other than my red patent leather go-go boots from Sears and Roebuck, I can’t even remember my most precious presents. I think back while writing this article and realize that that box represented family time. Time with my dad while we unrolled the lights and tested for bulbs. My brother and I would crawl around and call out which color was burned out and our mom and dad would come change it out. Time with my mom as she carefully took the Christmas decorations out of their boxes and handed them to us one by one to hang on the tree. The magic of unwrapping my mom’s hand-painted nativity set. That one night we were all focused on one thing together.
Photos kick my melancholy into overdrive and then I start time traveling into eras, chapters, and other universes that don’t even belong to me. The ones that stop me in my tracks the most are ones that remind me of what was on my mind at the time the photo was taken. Photos when I knew I wanted to be elsewhere or when I was caught up in some political drama. Even worse, is when I look at photos of myself during “boy troubles” and realize all the wasted time and emotion I surrendered. Some folks will
compliment me on a photo and say they loved my smile or they loved my “outfit,” but all I see is the pain from that era. Knowing that I was hiding many truths while worrying about a relationship that was never meant to be.
Life is a journey and I was meant to learn a few things along the way. The photo collage that makes up my life started taking shape and making sense once I became a mom. When I look at photos of time spent with my children knowing I was where I needed to be… where I was meant to be. All the trials and tribulations of my life led me to right here… right now. The good old days are here, each and every day that I wake up. I can make a choice to embrace these days as the Grandma of Miakoda and Otto, the Mother of Dakota and Brody, the Daughter of O.B. and Joanne, the Partner of Arlo, the Sister to O.B…. the list goes on. It is a purposeful effort not to waste my time worrying about something else or wishing I was somewhere else because of the regret that I may feel in the future. I refuse to set myself up for that failure. In five or thirty years, I don’t want to look at the photos of myself with my parents, children, grandchildren, partner or good friends and remember the thoughts behind those eyes as being anything but present… anything but grateful. Another life lesson learned through these trying times of a global pandemic is that tomorrow is never promised. It used to seem so cliché, however, I have lost so many near and dear to me and realized the value of that one last conversation, the last hug, the last promise to get together.
The good days are everyday. The good days are right now. Carpe diem!