This the 4th blog in the Fall 2018 Life After Loss blog series:
The Gift of Happy Memories – May a Memory of Your Loved One Make You Smile This Holiday Season
“Memories are perhaps the best gifts of all.”
– Gloria Gaither
A couple of weeks ago, I had a table selling my wares at a Christmas market in my hometown of Calgary, Alberta. I had a lot of fun over those four days, meeting new people, visiting with dear friends and reconnecting with some old friends I hadn’t seen in a very long time.
One of those people was Cheryl. She’d seen a Facebook post about my table at the Christmas market so brought one of her daughters, Dani, to come by and say hi.
Cheryl and I go way back. Cheryl’s husband, Brian, is an old friend of my husband, John (they met in Junior High). Although I hadn’t seen Cheryl in years, we’d kept in touch via e-mail and social media. But seeing her in person was different, of course. It was like no time at all had passed and the fun memories of our party-days came flooding back.
One memory in particular stood out, so I thought I’d share that with you…partly because it is a funny story ? but also because it is a great example of the gift of a happy memory.
The Glass of Water
Brian was the first in John’s group of buddies (“The Boyz”) to get married. John and I were in early twenties at the time and I can remember the two of us dancing at Brian & Cheryl’s wedding like it was yesterday. But it was what happened after the wedding (ahem) that really sticks in my mind.
John’s older sister, Stacey, had her own apartment but she was out of town that weekend, so John and I crashed at her place the night of Brian & Cheryl’s wedding.
I won’t divulge details but let’s just say that when Stacey came home to her apartment complex the next day (John and I, of course, were long gone), she ran into her downstairs neighbor in the stairwell. The neighbor was an older woman who stopped Stacey and said something to the effect of, “Oh my…what a night YOU had! After listening to you & whoever you were with, I had to get up and get a glass of water.”
Stacey (who, I should mention, was also the Resident Manager of the apartment complex) was mortified…and puzzled. But she quickly figured out what had happened. “That was NOT me you heard,” she said to the woman. “That was my BROTHER and his damn girlfriend.”
When Stacey later told John the story, he roared with laughter. So did I. Eventually, so did she.
Now that 18 years have passed since John’s death, more often than not when I think of him, I find myself smiling or laughing at the wonderful times we shared as a young couple. For so many years, when I thought of him, I tended to focus on his death 🙁 or, when I did recall a happy memory, it often made me feel sad because I knew it could never be again.
And although that is true, that doesn’t have to be sad. Memories are a portal to the past…we can go for a quick visit any time we want. We don’t have stay long/stuck. But when we do go, WE get to decide what we are going to take from that memory…and perhaps even how we are going to feel.
The older I get, the more I choose to feel happiness when I think of all the fun & goofy things I’ve experienced with the people I have loved. For I have also learned that how I feel in this moment seems to play a role in how the future unfolds…almost as if the energy of joy and laughter attracts more of those types of experiences.
May you, too, experience the gift of a happy memory this holiday season.
Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. To subscribe to the Life After Loss blog series, please sign up here.