Denise Day Spencer

March 8, 2007


Filed under: Personal reflections — denisedayspencer @ 7:53 pm

A couple of months back I chaperoned a trip with Michael and his AP English IV class. We took them to Transylvania University to see “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Clay met us for dinner and the play, and it was great, as always, to get to spend time with our son.

After the show we took him back to the U.K. campus and dropped him off in a parking lot near his dorm. As we pulled away and I saw Clay walking back to his high-rise home away from home in the darkness, I started to cry. Michael had his back to me on the tiny bus. It was dark inside and the kids were all chatting merrily. Thankfully, nobody noticed the silent tear coursing down my cheek.

A sense of loneliness overwhelmed me. I missed Clay. I missed Noel. I missed Grandma.

But it was more than that. What’s scary is that I know from experience that you start to forget. When Noel went to college and came home for her first extended break, I  realized I’d forgotten so many little things about her–how funny she was, what she liked and didn’t like, her favorite sayings. Had I truly lost so many memories of my very own firstborn? Or were those thoughts simply not at the forefront of my mind any more? It seemed like the same difference to me.

About the time I cried over Clay, I pulled out a notebook in which I’d made some journal entries along the way about life with Grandma. She had only been gone a few months, but my memory had already misplaced so many funny little stories and sweet recollections of her brief time with us.

Seeing Clay that night, I was forced to admit that I was already losing my day-to-day knowledge of him…ever so slightly, but still very truly. His smile, his walk. I had suffered too many losses too fast, and it felt overwhelming.

This led to my thinking about how quickly we move on when someone dies. It didn’t take us long to get Grandma’s room cleaned out, her clothes given away, and the space converted to a guest room. Sometimes when I notice such an absence of possessions it seems as if the person had almost never lived. And yet…

I have countless memories from my childhood, and I always will. Memories of my parents, of my sister and me, of grandparents and friends. These treasured thoughts are precious, for they represent not just events, but how these people  shaped my life. If it weren’t for these individuals and the roles they played in my world, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Even the things I don’t recall still do their part, embedded deep inside me and urging me forward in depth of character and  faith. Perhaps it’s the little things we forget, but the important things that live on.

Tomorrow we’ll be picking Clay up for spring break. We’ll head north and spend a couple of days with Noel and Ryan. Noel will cook for us. We’ll go to church with them. We’ll order out for pizza. And we’ll make memories. Perhaps I’ll write them down so I don’t forget so soon.


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