Today’s moments, tomorrow’s memories

by Helen Heath OAM, executive officer of the Interfaith Network of the City of Greater Dandenong

Dr Seuss once said: “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”

Our lives are lived, some for many, many days, some for less so.

Thousands of ordinary days and moments come and go, often without recognition or distinction.

But there are those days with extraordinary moments which leave us with extraordinary memories.

We usually don’t remember the days, but we do remember the moments.

If the dimness of the last two or so years has revealed anything, it is the magic of re-membering those precious and treasured moments.

Moments come and go but memories last forever.

We can re-member or bring to mind, recollect, and reminisce about those songs, smells, tastes, music, lyrics, words spoken, or poems read – even a certain look someone gave, or time of day or night, or a seasonal light.

All these can evoke deep feelings or images that resonate with the heart.

Our aging population has many families with loved ones who are living with dementia. We can alleviate physical pain, but mental pain – grief, despair, depression, confusion – is less accessible to treatment.

It’s connected to who we are – our personality, our character, to our soul.

Someone has said “please remember the real me when I cannot remember you”.

Dementia is the disappearing slowly, the long goodbye.

It takes someone from you twice: once when you lose them as they were, as you have known them all along – and twice, when you lose them as they are, at their final breath.

People change but memories do not, so making each moment the best it can be, can assist us in creating some memories of importance.

For all of us in just holding on to the good memories “nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it”. (L.M. Montgomery)

And when our loved ones struggle to re-member, we re-member with them.

As Vince Lombardi has written: “The darkest moments of our lives are not to be buried and forgotten, rather they are a memory to be called upon for inspiration to remind us of the unrelenting human spirit and our capacity to overcome the intolerable.”

Summoning up compassion to love someone who has forgotten how (or that) they loved you, is painful beyond words but sharing through re-membering of their good moments can assist to bring a sacred connection beyond the present reality – even if momentarily.

If the dimness of the last two or so years has revealed anything, it is the joy of re-membering special and unique moments.

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life,” Omar Khayyam notes.