I Want to Remember

I want to remember waking from the soft flannel nest of sleep beside my husband, pulling on warm clothes and stepping outside in the dark in time to see the day begin.

I want to remember the holy hush just before dawn, the mists rising out of the valley, the sharp, clear sky still pricked by the bright eye of Venus. I want to remember the way light returns slowly to this earth, taking its time. How it arrives at last from behind a curtain of rose and purple clouds. How glad I am to be here.

I want to remember the sudden uprise of Canada geese bursting through the silence, honking and flapping and lifting into to the sky, oblivious to our astonishment. I want to remember their wild call as they jockeyed into a ragged V before shearing off through the clear veil of morning. The way my husband and I smiled at each other, silent, as we watched them go.

I want to remember the cold smell of Gracies’s coat when I bury my face in her neck, her silky hair so dry it fairly crackles. She is twelve. I want to remember everything.

I want to remember the September woods. The rich, smoky, earthy smells of nature concluding a season’s business. I want to remember the great buttery clumps of mushrooms, such fecund, untouchable bounty. And when, exactly, did the pliant maple leaves grow brittle and thin enough to see through? How subtle was the moment when summer’s green palette was exchanged for the golden hues of fall? I want to remember the exquisite turning of this page, as the blue-green hills I’ve gazed upon all summer begin now to glow with color. I want to remember this: Don’t blink. Every hour the scene repaints itself. We are heading toward brilliance, fleeting and irrepressible.

I want to remember the nasturtiums, how they came up everywhere this year, tumbling through the garden like handfuls of jewels, tossed and scattered with wild abandon. I want to remember the shy orange poppies; all summer they held back, only to bloom now at the end of September, long after I’d given up all hope of them. I want to remember the greedy, glorious, rampant pink and violet petunias, spilling out of their pots, cascading over the steps, taking advantage of every barren crack in the walkway. I want to remember the hummingbird that comes each afternoon to drink their depths. I want to remember these days before frost lays claim to every cherished, fragile blossom.

I want to remember the industriousness of bees, the hum in the garden. I want to remember the slow undulation of a Monarch’s wings as it sips from a pink zinnia. I want to remember the robin splashing like a hedonist in the birdbath beneath a stand of exhausted sunflowers, their drooping, heavy heads plucked clean of seed. (I should cut them down, haul those useless stalks to the compost pile.) I want to remember how reluctant I am to see anything come to an end, and how even now I leave the dead flowers standing standing there, patiently waiting for me to summon resolve.

I want to remember the last breakfast on the screened porch, the penultimate bouquets, the hydrangeas drying on their curved stems, the end of peaches, the first Macouns from the trees up the road, the puckery sweetness of a Concord grape splitting on the tongue.

I want to remember Henry’s oatmeal cookies and the rich buttery smells in the kitchen, Diana Krall singing “Love Me or Leave Me” as he washes dishes at the sink. I want to remember how good it is to have a son come home.

I want to remember my favorite sandwiches, made without bread: sliced Brandywine tomatoes and white mozzarella ovals and basil leaves still warm from the sun. I want to remember the briny grit of sea salt, and juice dripping off my elbows, and not minding.

I want to remember dozing in the lawn chair with a book in my lap, as the first yellow leaves spin to earth. I want to remember days with windows wide open, and the way cold seeps through the house as soon as the sun disappears behind the trees. I want to remember Henry practicing Rachmaninoff. I want to remember lighting candles at dinner again, and how it feels to live in one place for five years, to feel one’s own roots sinking into the earth. I want to remember that change is part of being alive. I want to remember to take time to sit in silence, to breathe into the still point, where past and future are gathered. I want to remember some lines by T.S. Eliot:

Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline.
Except for the point, the still point,
there would be no dance,
and there is only the dance.

I want to remember that in the week before I turn 54, I am vexed by a private catalog of imponderables. I want to remember that even these most perfect days and nights have been limned with sadness, punctuated by sleepless hours, a host of worries, questions without answers. I want to remember that sometimes I can set my troubles aside, choose instead to see my life as a blessing. I want to remember that surrender is always possible, and that I can be sad and grateful at the same time. Filled up and emptied out, both. Even a heavy heart can overflow with contentment. I want to remember to keep my eyes open, to pay attention. Life is short. I want to remember: this is it. There is only the dance.

Tell me, what do you want to remember?

(I write today inspired by my friend Lindsey’s poignant post on this theme at A Design so Vast. Thank you Lindsey!)

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your comments

  1. I want to remember to be kind, the golden rule, the age of innocence, my boys laughing and that I am forgiven, always that I have been forgiven. To walk humbly, live justly and love unconditionally.

  2. I want to remember the light dancing on the river, the tide full up on the banks. I want to remember the bliss I felt holding a man of 33 years and accepting all of it. I want to remember the smell of lobster and cut grass and clean children. I want to remember holding my grandson as his little back bends, his nose in my neck, and me telling him to remember how much I love him, and he said , “I know Grandma”. I want to remember that my position as first parent has been replaced by my children and that sometimes I am bitter sweet about losing my position. I want to remember how I have lived, striven and failed. How I have loved so deeply, so briefly, yet enough. I want to remember how each day, now that I am older, has such fullness. That each moment I have a chance to feel it all, again.I want to remember ,as long as life allows, to remember. xo

    • Well stated Carol, I too have added the role of Grandma and have just married off my fourth beautiful daughter on New Year’s Eve. As I look back on their childhoods and think of the first of many things times four, I want to remember it all. Now with the role of grandma I am reliving the memories of my children. Life has given so much to me and I am truly blessed — and I to want to remember!

  3. “We are heading towards brilliance, fleeting and irrepressible.” What a beautiful line. A great way to begin a new season.

  4. I want to remember my Mom when she was just herself, confident, tall and beautiful. Not robbed by age and time of her own ability to remember and find joy in the pictures taken by her heart.

  5. I want to remember picking up Christian from school and hearing about his day on the way to piano.
    I want to remember how hard he concentrates at the piano and how he beams when his teacher praises his accomplishments.
    I want to remember how Hannah sings so happily and with abandon when she is in the shower.
    I want to remember the lean, strong lines of Nick’s boy body turning into one of a teen.
    I want to remember the way Nick still likes to tell me things, and loves my undivided attention. I know how soon the time is coming when that may not be so.
    I want to remember how a text from Lauren, away at college, eases my mind and brings her closer for a moment.
    I want to remember how Lauren sounds as she bravely goes forward, learning how to use her wings to soar.
    I want to remember how some days are so long and boring, but I still wouldn’t trade them for anything else.

  6. Dear Katrina, it is so clear the role nature plays in your life. This is such beautiful poetry full of courage. I am in awe of your ability to focus on beauty and to remain open to the present moment no matter what.

  7. That was absolutely beautiful. Thank you

  8. Oh, Katrina, oh. First of all, I’m so glad you wrote on this as well because your images are so beautiful, so stunning, so full. And this? ” Even a heavy heart can overflow with contentment.” well, yes. That’s my heart, right there. I’m so grateful I know someone who can express it so lucidly, so gorgeously. Thank you. xox

  9. Absolutely beautiful. What a gifted writer you are, Katrina. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I’m heading back up the page to re-read it now!

  10. I loved this. I want to remember to write in my journal no matter how tired I am, because “I want to remember.” Thank you for your continued inspiration.

  11. I want to remember all about my mom and how she told me not too long before she died that she loved me from the moment she saw me. I want to remember my mom still thinking I was pretty and telling me I looked nice at 62 yrs. old. No one but my momsays that.
    I want to remember my dear friend Barbara who passed in March-all the fun times and wonderful times we had. She always encouraged me and always bought me some lovely skin cream or some such for Christmas.
    I loved this friend and my darling mom who passed in July so the losses have been hard along with many other worries But life is wonderful and God is good. My dad will be 91 on Oct. 11 and he still thinks life is beautiful. I need to remember to take some good from each day, but sometimes I forget.

  12. The first time I read these beautiful words — I misread the last line. I read, “There is only one dance.” It stopped me in my tracks. Perhaps not your intention but entirely true — and your words obviously conveyed that powerful message to me. Thank you Katrina and Lindsey for the reminder – especially on this day of atonement and remembrance for me. xxoo

  13. I am so glad I saved this to read with my morning coffee. It expresses all my feelings about summer and fall at our lake house.

    I am in the city with my husband painting our youngest daughters new condo. The last child to leave our family home ( which is now up for sale). I want to remember all the memories of our daughters in this home as we prepare to let it go. And I want to remember her excitement on starting out on her own.

    Such beautiful words to start the day. Many Thanks, Katrina.

  14. As my boys start school, one a freshman in high school and one in 7th grade, I want to remember days spent with them as preschoolers watching Sesame Street and each of us guessing what the Count’s number of the day will be. I want to remember the sound of their laughter as they played outside in the warm summer sun, splashing in the kiddie pool, pushing each other on the go cart they made in cub scouts. In just the blink of an eye they’ve grown into teens creating memories to look back on in years to come.

    I want to remember the smell of basil as I cut small pieces of it to put in my salad, the beautiful and bold dahlias and gerbera daisies.

    I can go on and on — so many things to remember and cherish from my childhood, my children’s childhood, memories of my parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles who have all passed on. Such happy memories, yet they bring tears to my eyes as I mourn the wonderful times gone by.

    Yes, we are all doing the dance of life creating memories, some happy some not so happy. We worry, we pray, we hope for peace, but the most important thing is that we love and that’s what gets us through the day.

    Thank you, Katrina, for all of your wonderful, inspiring stories.

  15. My favorite song is Garth Brooks’ “The Dance”. “Our lives are better left to chance/I could have missed the pain/But I’d had to miss the dance”. Life comes with the fear, the worry, to the point where we can be paralyzed by it…or we can enjoy the dance and appreciate the blessings that are all around us. Good for you for celebrating the beauty that is always there if we choose to seek it.

  16. WOW. So much good stuff here. I loved it all, but especially “the rich, smoky, earthy smells of nature concluding a season’s business.” So lovely.

  17. Thank you, Katrina, for continuing to express in words all the gratitude that I feel in my heart. I have read your “Ordinary Day” book at least three times (I’ve lost track….) and listened to the audio CDs so many times that they need to be replaced with a new set. Your gift of putting words on a page brings me such encouragement. I will not let this fall pass without appreciating its daily changes.

  18. This post reminds me of a conversation I had just this week with my 19 year old son. We were sitting in the sun on our back porch, soaking in the colorado sun and breeze, just being together in quiet.

    I broke the silence to tell him about one of my all time favorite scenes in a movie. The movie is ‘Michael’ (ironically, my son’s name) The main character is an angel who is on his last mission to earth. At one point he’s standing in the middle of a huge field. He tilts his face to the sun and pauses as the wind sifts through his hair. Then he says something like, “This. This is one of the things I’ll miss most about the earth.”
    I think of that movie often, and the simple, peaceful pleasure of feeling the sun on your face, the breeze through your hair. Someday, when I die, that will be one of the things I miss the most too. This is what I want to remember.

  19. http://www.50plusstickingtogether.com/1/post/2012/09/transitory.html

    I want to remember that life constantly changes. I love this piece Katrina. Life is transitory….Despite my mom being 93 she was healthy for her age and in the blink of an eye she got sick and one week later was gone. I want to remember and be thankful for all she taught me. I want to remember we will meet again one day and she is watching me and the same sky, moon and stars are above so when I feel lonely all I have to do is look up:) I wrote a blog on transitory….the link is above if anyone would like to read it:) your post was beautiful as were all the answers above

  20. This. This is gorgeous. I’ve read Lindsey’s and Pamela’s and now, your beautiful love letter to your deepest desire to remember. Thank you for sharing your gorgeous words. xo

  21. Visiting our daughter in Paris, I was crouched in the bathtub and wrestling with the art of rinsing myself clean without spraying water beyond myself and onto the floor. I thought how I wanted to remember this moment: I gave birth to a daughter who grew up and moved to Paris, who met a Frenchman she will marry next summer. Our lives our now stretched between two continents and my tiny world is expanding.

  22. jenifer shahda says:

    I want to remember Evelyn’s (9 weeks) round belly as she sleeps peacefully on the floor with her shirt up and her arms above her head. I want to remember Lillian (2.5) wanting to wear two different shoes, on the wrong feet, and a winter crown hat on a hot day in Georgia, to school this morning.

  23. As my oldest son enters his final year of high school and my youngest enters 9th grade I want to remember every thing about the next ten months of

  24. as I was saying…I want to remember every sound in this house for the next ten months…my boys confiding in each other and speakinh softly so I won’t hear. The sound of the electric shaver…each and every morning as my eldest shaves the few whiskers that he has. The talks we share late at night when he comes home from an night out with his buddies..I want to remember the sound of the basketball at it hits the rim over and over again as my youngest plays day after day after day…rain or shine! I want to remember my boys laughing at their “just between us” jokes. I want to remember the smell of their hair..yes I still smell it when they stand still long enough. I want to remember the love we all shared…the ups the downs….the hugs, the kisses, and the “I love you’s” I am not sure how I will get through the new phase mo my life…thinking about it now is difficult, but if I can remember the warmth of their hands, and the sound of their voices…it will be much easier…that is what I wish to remember.

  25. My mom was with my dad in the assisted living recently, and he’s failing and it’s rather sad; however, they are big on reminiscing and on memories of good times past and so she asked him what his favorite time was and he said, “right now.”

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