Remembering Our Shared History Strengthens Our Relationship
“Can you believe our little Fafa finished ninth grade?” I asked my husband, Todd, as I flushed his feeding tube. He laughed, and we took a trip down memory lane.
Our daughter, Sara, gave herself the nickname. Before she was even 2, she said something like, “Fafa wants that.”
“Who’s Fafa?” Todd asked.
“Me Fafa,” she said.
I tried to get her to say the “s” sound at the front of her name. “Say ssssSara.”
“SsssFafa,” she said.
I’m feeling sentimental, as school has just concluded for the year. Our son completed fifth grade and will be in middle school in the fall. Our daughter completed her freshman year of high school. Her best friend graduated this year. I am keenly aware that time is limited, not only because Todd has ALS, but because our kids are growing up and will be off to college before I know it.
Todd shares more memories with me than anyone else. I like traveling down memory lane with him, revisiting places and seasons of life. He has detailed recall of everything — books he’s read, movies we’ve watched, and experiences we’ve had. Unless I’ve written something down in my journal, I’m left with only snapshots. I recently asked Todd to tell our kids about their births. Todd gave them the play-by-play, each with nearly 24 hours of labor.
I’ve found myself humming the Alan Jackson song, “Remember When.”
“I was young and so were you …
“We vowed the vows and walked the walk …
“The sound of little feet was the music …”
I pulled up the music video for Jackson’s song. As I watched and listened, the beautiful tapestry of Todd’s and my shared life unfolded in my mind. We were young. We fell in love. We said our vows. We experienced the joy of becoming parents together.
But then Jackson gets to the final verse in which he speculates about the future, when his children grow up and move away.
“We won’t be sad, we’ll be glad
“For all the life we’ve had
“And we’ll remember when.”
And that is when my sentimental tears turn to tears of sorrow, because with ALS there is the not the gift of looking forward and imagining a life of growing old together.
People emphasize living in the present, so they don’t miss the moment. I agree, but there’s also a richness in remembering a shared past together, especially when some parts of the present are so difficult. Todd and I talk about our travels, milestone events, and even favorite intimate moments.
Remembering the past can bolster us, strengthening our relationship as we look back on favorite times of our history together. As long as our minds hold, ALS doesn’t take our memories from us.
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