Remembering the Stories Behind the Memories

Facebook brings back memories through old “On This Day” posts and images; whether or not we like or want them, we get them daily.

It’s not that I mind those memories; some of them elicit smiles, laughs, and sentimental fondness; others are bittersweet reminders of the past. When I look at this picture, I can’t help but think of what led us there and what has happened since.

I took this picture 4 years ago at the American Embassy in London. I didn’t want to go there. We should have been on American soil as far as I was concerned. Instead, we endured a journey that had us jumping through bureaucratic hoops. We traveled all the way to the airport only for them to tell us we weren’t allowed to fly without an American passport for my daughter {even though she had a British one}. I can’t articulate what it feels like to hear, “You can’t go home” in a foreign airport. The frustration I felt was off the charts; we had the paperwork, issued by the State Department, that proved my daughter’s U.S. Citizenship but it was almost like they didn’t trust their own documents. They said it would take 2 weeks to secure an emergency temporary {3-month} passport {that still cost me $100, even though it was temporary} and the reality was, I didn’t have the means to spend 2 weeks in the U.K. I had every document known to man and it was good enough to get that passport in 2 days, but not good enough for them to allow us on a plane back to the U.S. Thank goodness getting the emergency passport only took 2 days and not 2 weeks. As we ascended the escalator to the concourses at Manchester airport, I told my daughter to take one last look around because it would be a long time before she’d see the U.K. again. Further, it takes an experience such as that one to truly appreciate the value of freedom.

As hard as it was to get home, I didn’t realize that I was about to face the most difficult months of my life. On the day of our return, my mother had “routine” surgery for gall bladder removal. The last time I’d seen her healthy was on Father’s Day, right before my trip to the U.K. {to bring my daughter back to America, following her father’s passing a few months before, in March}. Not long after my mother’s surgery, she developed complications which led to the discovery that she had Stage IV cancer. After 2 subsequent surgeries, she became weaker and the doctors told us that the chemo treatments would probably only stop the tumor from growing, but that remission wasn’t possible. She passed away 8 months after the first surgery, a little less than a year after my ex’s passing.

For me, this picture frames a moment of peace. There’s no evidence of the frustration and inconvenience I felt. There’s no evidence of the fight to get back home, not knowing what was in store for me once I got there. There’s no evidence of the premature grief I felt long before the day my mother took her last breath or even the reality that my mother’s life was drawing to an end.

Facebook may dredge up a painful memory for us. Facebook may remind us of people who are no longer in our lives. Facebook may remind us of what once was and no longer is. Facebook may force us to think about our lives before and after a single moment captured in a photograph. Facebook may open a Pandora’s box of emotions with a single image or status update. Although we may feel twinges of discomfort, sadness, regret, it’s only because we’re reminded of the battles we’ve survived ~ and continue to fight ~ and that the unpredictability of life is ever-present.

Until next time,

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2 thoughts on “Remembering the Stories Behind the Memories

  1. The requirements to get on a plane to come to the US was made up by the US gov’t. Before an American birth certificate used to be good enough to get on the plane. Not any more a passport is mandatory the exception is that active duty military can get on the plane with their military ID…….my condolences on your lost

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