Thursday, July 15, 2010

Memory Keeper's Daughters

I keep two journals. Neither one is for me.

They are for my daughters. In them, I talk about their milestones, their personalities, what they do that makes me laugh - all of those special things that a baby book can't capture (although we have those, too.) I have this idea of giving these journals to them when they've reached a certain age - what that age is, I still haven't decided - so that they can read not only what they were like when they were little, but also what I was like. The things I want them to know. Morbidly, if I were to pass away, it would be a way for them to remember me and hear my voice.

I was writing in those journals at least once a month. And then? I started this blog. And recently I began yet another attempt at a novel. I'm sure you can guess what I'm going to say next... Time is money, an illusion, the fire in which we burn. There is never enough of it and it can never be caught. Blah, blah, blah.

It's probably been two months since I wrote something in either one of those journals. Always, in the back of my mind, there is guilt. It seeps into the edges of everything, turning them sulfury yellow. Guilt burns.

A few days ago, Scarlett started singing. She had dragged out the microphones that we have that connect to the Xbox, and she was singing every song she knew. And when I looked at her I thought, I want to remember this forever. I didn't want to ruin it by trying to capture it on video. I wanted to burn it into a permanent spot in my brain, sear it there so well that I would see it when I closed my eyes, an afterimage of a moment that shone bright enough to hurt my eyes.

I memorized the way she looked: pajamas, shorts and a shirt, decorated with birds, stars, hearts. There was a blue and white-striped barrette in her hair, and she had plastic "jewel" rings on her fingers, and her tiny toenails were painted soft pink. She was like me at her age, but already bolder, singing out with no background tape, and so proud of herself.

Already I have lost so much of this memory. It's dull now; I had to think hard to remember the small details, like the barrette and the rings. I just remembered she had on a plastic necklace with pearls and a blue high heel (Cinderella's glass slipper) that had a little button and you would hear, "Hello! I'm Cinderella" whenever you pressed it. See? Little pieces are just slipping away.

I wonder how much I will remember of that moment in two weeks? A month? And I made a conscious effort to remember. By the time I get around to writing in those journals again, I will have forgotten whole months, I'm sure. When exactly did Sosie start smiling? When did she first sleep through the night? Those moments are blanks to me now; mysteries that can't be solved, only conjectured.

I know how fast this time goes. I want desperately to hold onto it. I'll need these memories when the girls are older, absorbed in friends and boys, no longer begging me to stay home from work because they don't want me to go but, more probably, hoping I would just go and get out of their faces, already. Sigh.

At least I will have something tangible, something to hold in my hands and read and remember. Those journals? They are for me. They're for them, of course - but they're also for me.