what we carry

We talk of old things and new things and I'm caught in between with a thousand thoughts and feelings tight in my throat. I feel it all, every memory with their aches and their releasing and then I see the depth and grace of what is happening now.

Our bowls are piled high with noodles and vegetables that make a rainbow and it's all covered over with a sauce that fills every space and covers every color, and we are thick with words and time and now. Two babies are coming and we have babies at home that are kids. We have years with husbands and more years of knowing each other and we watch the history of it all flashing across the table in exchange when we're together. It seems that's what happens for me anyway, when I sit with people I've always known. It triggers the long long ago past and then suddenly I'm walking through every year until the now, remembering all my old things. Some of those things are so painful, I used to drink when they tried to surface. I used to drink to cover them, like the sauce.


We ask about grief and stress and the tired. We talk about struggle and surviving. We don't say it just like that, but all people struggle and we talk about it all and it's safe. Then we turn to joy and we laugh about our kids and her mouse phobia and embarrassing moments caused by our scattered and over-flowing minds.

We are filling our bellies and each other in. We are still the same and exactly not. We are laughing over years and years ago, there it is, still in our hearts while we leave it more and more behind.

It has been 12 years since she snagged that job and it's been 11 years this Sunday since he died. They got married in their early twenties and now we're entering our late 30's.
She has an eighth grader now who rolls her eyes, which means she has a child that is the age we were when we already knew each other, had already known each other long.

Yes, we have known each other so long it never feels wrong to hug, no matter how long it's been. We have known each other so long we make fun of each other easily and it doesn't hurt. We say a name or a place and then we all just know, all those same things from all the many years, there is so much knowing underneath, no need for explanation.

And yet everything is different. All those old things are left and gone and still sitting with us, falling in the spaces and in the moments of silence.


Sometimes I wish I were not so tied up in memory. That maybe for just a while I could be one of those people that lets go of the past with a deep breath and a shrug. I'm nostalgic and haunted at once. I cannot think of people or places for only a time. If you are loved by me or I lived in your walls, you are with me always even if we never speak again. I feel the void and then struggle to make more room for the people of my present. I love fiercely these boys of mine now and so I feel guilty sometimes over how much pushing around they are required to do, making room in my heart past all the things I carry there.


We laugh and someone says,
We are old. And we know that we really aren't, we've got a long way to go, but with all of these memories within all of these years it seems we must be running out of room by now. I think that's it for me, anyway. Sometimes I worry that I'm running out of space, that maybe my devotion and impeccable memory have stolen something from my heart's capacity in the now and maybe in the later. This pumping and beating muscle of mine is stretched and stretching with things I may never forget, the wounds and triumphs all the same, pushing like a crowd in my chest while sometimes the feet of motherhood and marriage and sobriety and faith pace circles on the outside, waiting for a turn.

Because when I fall into memory, I am gone for a while, struggling to heal and let go, to puzzle out, to pray. To say thank you for it all even when so much of it hurts and begs me to question. These memories are wild with colors and I can't help but notice them, to feel them, to let it all open wide with feelings I once numbed over and over again.

It hurts and it's hard, but now I see these pains and connections are covered, every part of every one, with redemption. They have turned to something new, a different shade, shifting me to ready or more.

I believe in freedom and healing, but I don't think that always comes with a forgetting. I will remember, but I will not always be held down with grief or longing or shame, these things that take up so much space. There will be a shift from heart to mind and less waiting around the edges for a turn.

I believe that.

15 clicked right here to comment:

Heather said...

So beautiful. Heather, you have such a way with words, I feel like I was right there with you, eating those noodles and right there with you, in your heart.


deb said...

oh, girl,
you made me cry.
oh how I wish I weren't so much about feeling and memory and heart space and more about living in the now.

thank you for this today. thank you very much.

peace to you , Heather. today, always.

Kelly Sauer said...

" If you are loved by me or I lived in your walls, you are with me always even if we never speak again."

Oh Heather. This is wonderful. Thank you, thank you, for being someone else in the world who knows and feels all of this. Sometimes, I feel so alone.

Kim said...

You have, again, very eloquently put what so many of us feel into words. This is one of the reasons why you are an amazing writer.

Your nostalgia is what makes you who you are. You remember, you care, you think about others and how they will feel, how they have felt. I am much the same.

There are times when I long for what was and know can never be. It is just part of my life.

Now I am rambling, so I will just sum it up with this...thank you for this post today. I love you.

Elizabeth @claritychaos said...

What a striking image - a heart crowded with memories and anxieties while marriage, motherhood, faith, etc pace around outside. Such an evocative way to describe that floating off from the present and the way we can be distracted (by many things - past, present, and future) from the things that are actually our priorities.

MidnightCafe said...

So many things are so wonderful and so painful and beautiful and hard all at once. Our memories, of course, are all those things because they're all the things that have happened to us. You've said it so beautifully, as usual! Much love to you!

Ann Imig said...

Had a frantic moment of TWO BABIES TWINS WHAAAA WHEN DID I MISS THAT until I settled down and reread it three or four more times.

Got it.

Your busy brain is such a relief to me. Thank you. And your bursting heart is so inspiring.

(full-to-bursting, not splitting open)

bernthis said...

I had the same freak out as Ann. This was beautiful but probably not something I should be reading when I already feel so weepy.

Jenn said...

Heather, this is beautiful. Your words leap off the page. They are vivid and paint a picture that my heart grabs hold of. Thank you!

Amy @ Never-True Tales said...

Reading this post made me feel wrapped up in something warm. I am a nostalgic person as well, and the way you describe your children having to push around to make room in your head...wow. Yes. I'd never thought of it that way. Thank you, you. :)

Erin said...

This is so thoughtful. I certainly understand the feeling of being old, even though you're (I'm) not. Sigh.

Allison @ Alli 'n Son said...

So very thoughtful and full of love. I also feel the years when I meet with long-loved friends. Especially the ones that I see so rarely that it's a treat when we do finally get together.

Mammatalk said...

I love the whole imagery of motherhood and marriage and faith struggling for your heart space.

However, are you saying you are having twins? Because I just may have to go sit down now.

Talk about a crowded heart! I think mine just got a bit more crowded, too.

Heather of the EO said...

No! No twins, friends.

I meant that a friend of mine and I are both expecting babies. We were both part of the three I was referring to in this post.

But it was terribly confusing. whoops.

Dedee said...

Beautifully expressed, as always. I loved the thought of people always being in ones heart, because I know they are always in mine.

"I believe in freedom and healing, but I don't think that always comes with a forgetting."

This line caught me. I don't think we are supposed to forget in the "I've lost my memory of everything" way. I think we have to remember what has happened so that we can rise above it and never go back. I think we are just supposed to learn to not let what happened be the only thing we think about all the time--whether it's in terms of the anger we feel, or the sadness, or the self-loathing, or the pain. I think we are supposed to learn about the feelings, feel them, and then move on. I don't think you ever forget the life-changing experiences.

Hope that made sense.

I think you're fabulous!

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