It doesn’t happen all the time. But mostly, I wish it didn’t happen at all.
Like clipping my daughter’s fingernails, for example. Her freshly bathed body sitting wrapped in a pink princess robe, all shivery with little legs speckled by goose bumps.
“Okay, give me your hand.” Clipping, I trim back her soft nails.
“Now the other, please.” Clip, clip, clip. “I’m trying to hurry, but you gotta sit still.”
Precious, intimate moments innocently unwrapping precious, complicated memories.
Of being 6 and sitting with Daddy while he clips my nails. I hear Mommy in the kitchen, and I’m secretly wishing she would do it because my soft nails are especially sensitive, but Daddy doesn’t stand for my squirming.
Then I’m 12, sitting with Mom in her bathroom. Her hair needed washed that day and her nails trimmed. Together we accomplished both, and I’m feeling pride at our minimal mess despite her worsening movements.
And 25. From across the apartment I can tell my sister’s nails need attention. They’ve grown long again, but she can’t sit still long enough to cut them herself. I grab the clippers, then gently pinning her arm to my side with my elbow, I hold each finger in one hand while I clip with the other. Doing my best to steady her movements, I trim her soft, torn nails as quickly as I can while she does her very best not to move.
The flood of memory doesn’t happen all the time. But mostly, I wish it didn’t happen at all.
Because it tends to intrude. To invade. Even infect.
And it hurts.
It hurts remembering moments composed of love, compelled by love, and then also scorched by it. It hurts to replay the backwardness of disease, the indignity of a slow death.
It hurts. But also, it heals.
The reminders of loving and being loved, of caring and being cared for. It’s past brought to present, it’s time intertwined. And it’s a reminder of how to create a future – even if it’s one that can’t include them.
This week may you let yourself remember. May you permit the past to bring clarity to your present, and may what hurts now become a healing reminder in your future.
Note to the Reader: Huntington’s Disease is a degenerative disease that causes involuntary physical movement. After long struggles with this disease, both Robin’s mother and sister have now gone on to be with the Lord. These reflections pertain to her memories of them. For more of this story check out:
In the Shadow of Huntington’s Disease: How’s Your Mom”
In the Shadow of Huntington’s Disease: Will You be Tested?
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