I remember many things and most of them are so clear and precise in their colors and textures, sounds and scents that often they sweep me away completely and leave me sitting or standing unmoving but wakeful and unable to discern what is past and what present. My childhood is frighteningly vivid, something that I feel so close to that at times its though I'm there––riding my little red tricycle around my Grandma Fuger's house in my terrycloth shorts and t-shirt, or playing alone in the cubby under the stairs in Grandma Rogers' dining room, or peddling my dirt bike across the hills behind our house on long summer afternoons. I know the names of each and every neighborhood friend who I wrangled into performing plays for our parents in my backyard. The rumble of our riding lawn mower is still a fresh tickle on my skin and the Miller Hi-Life scent of our backyard barbeques is as vivid as last night's dinner. I am consumed by memory and fear more than anything else losing a single one, forgetting some very simple bit of my past that has been like a precious gem to me all these years, something clutched tightly in my fist, leaving a mark that is red and deep and still the most beautiful and endearing of scars.
I do not know if there is a heaven, at least not in the traditional Christian sense of the word. More often than not I believe that just as in life, The Universe allows us to create our own perceptions of death. Whatever we believe in life is true in death, and so I cling to the idea that when I die I will be granted the power to revisit any day I choose, to sit with the ones I have loved so deeply, to talk with them again as I did all those years ago, to laugh and play with, to nap against, to set aside all the baggage of these days and receive and share again our pure, raw love.
There are times, late at night when I lay awake staring at the ceiling, or in the frigid cold of washed-out winter, when I feel very alone and confused as to how I got here, when I worry about never having the opportunity to play Follow the Judge with my friends in the ravine behind our homes, or never seeing Grandma's face on Christmas Day, sitting with my grandfather while he tied flies or riding in the car with Grandpa Rogers while we drove down the dusty two-lane highway between Firth and Shelley, or falling asleep on the patio under the stars with my sister, or driving from Pocatello to Denver with my mother when I was ten years old and listening to her tell stories about her own youth and all the adventures she had. At those sleepless times I recite my memories over and over in my head, summoning them and living them again, moving through them as quickly and as precisely as possible, hoping that this will not be the last time I hold and turn these precious gems in the palm of my hand.
And then there are evenings like this one, when Duncan pulls me down to the lake and around the path to each of the Russian Olives trees, which have opened their blossoms to me and have scuttled away the smoke that hovered over us yesterday, drowning out their power and the peace they bring. These are the times that I am reminded that memories reside in our brains right next door to the place that processes scent and all I have to do is close my eyes and breath deeply and I can travel to any place and time I have ever been and live there as clearly as I did all those days ago.
How perfect that I am doing it with my wise best friend, my guiding angel on this earth, taking communion in the little yellow flowers that have become the stepping stones of my life. Now and forever.