For my recent post on Jess, I wanted to share some pictures of when she was a child. I had an idea of what types of pictures I wanted to include and hooked up the external hard drive to locate them. As I scrolled back 10, 12, 15 years, I came across pictures of her, of her siblings, individually and together, and of my former husband with them. It was a jolt, a shock. Since each picture with him felt like a poke at a bruise and I’m pain averse, I sped up my review. I got what I needed and got out.
Over the next couple of days, I did not feel like myself. I felt raw and tears threatened. The logical part of me was like “Molly, this is not new information and you are happy in this space and time.” The emotional part of me was like “I can’t talk right now! WTF happened? I need a tissue or five.” I felt grief and sadness, and I recognized those feelings. But there was something else: I felt surprised. That was what perplexed me the most. Why was I surprised?
I wake up every day and know who I am and how I got here in this moment. It is not new news and yet, I couldn’t shake this feeling of not being in the know. My sister gave me the key: concurrent lives. She said, “It’s the concept that in every moment, our lives split off into infinite directions and we live all of them.” When I looked up those old pictures, it connected me to who I was then and still living in that life.
Then me: Do you remember this picture? Gathering everyone on the porch for a back to school shot?
Now me: I do. It is so sweet. Hey, you should know…we are not together anymore.
Then me: What? No way…
Now me: Way.
Then me: Ouch! That hurts… I’ll just be over here coming UNGLUED.
Now me: You go right ahead. Right there with you.
Surprise. This is what my old self felt when I told her what happened followed by grief and sorrow and sadness. For her, it didn’t matter why or how it happened, just that it did. It reminds me of Alzheimer patients who are mentally living in the past. When they awaken to the present moment, they are struck by loved ones gone, living arrangements drastically altered, faculties departed. It cuts deeply.
Seeing the pictures of when the kids were young connected that time to now, connected that me to now. It was a visit between two old friends who haven’t seen each other in years. Updates given, happy memories and grief shared, I’ve since put those pictures away. There is something to be said for a fresh start, for a few treasured mementos saved, and the past kept in the past.