When Memories Burn

BeckyBenson

I always knew it would happen. That one day I would pop on Facebook and see one of those posts at the top of my news feed. The ones where Facebook shares with you some of your prior posts on that day, year’s past. And it would burn.

“Becky, we care about you and the memories you share. We thought you’d like to look back on this post from 4 years ago,” the message said.

Thanks, Facebook.

facebookupdateIt’s odd because these “memories” don’t pop up automatically every day, so I wonder what the process is by which they’re vetted and what algorithm is used to determine which ones to show, or on which days, how often, etc.?

The post was a photo I had uploaded of my daughter’s headstone. It was quite the process to design, negotiate with the cemetery for size and shape, and finally for me to find the energy and wherewithal to create. It had just arrived via UPS, four months after her death and I had snapped a picture of it unwrapped, laying on my kitchen floor and uploaded it to Facebook as a tribute to her memory.

I was proud of the sentiment behind the thoughtfully carved and polished granite stone. The final piece to be laid atop her earthly body’s resting place. It was the last act of love I could commit in regard to her physical form. I was proud of the words I had agonized over getting just right to ensure that all who passed would know how loved and respected this child was. Is.

I have several friends online who have also lost children to Tay-Sachs disease and given that we’re scattered across the country, sharing in this format is one of the primary ways we stay connected with each other, and pay our respects to each other’s children as well.

I kept the stone with me for months before I had it placed on her grave. It was hard for me to part with knowing that like her, once it was gone from our home it would never return. It sat in her then untouched room. The place I felt her presence the most. Visiting her grave is not something I do often. It’s a hollow feeling for me. It’s cold and desolate. She’s not there. She’s in my heart. And her grave is an amplification of her absence in the physical world.

Seeing the picture of her headstone was yet another accentuation of that absence. One thing parents who have lost a child will tell you is that grief doesn’t die. Memories, both good and bad lurk around every corner begging you to acknowledge them in a language only you seem to speak. No amount of time or space can separate you from the feelings of loss and the sorrow of missing your child. We may find our new way in the world after their passing, and even be able to navigate life day by day in healthy, productive ways, but there will always be subtle reminders of what we are missing. Sometimes it’s the smallest memories that conjure up the biggest feelings.

So thanks for caring about my memories, Facebook. I’m glad you thought I would want to remember this, but the truth is, I have never forgotten.

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