Memories Forgotten

May 22, 2017
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My daughter sat next to me on the couch, her little eyes fell on the unopened box that rested on my lap. She was supposed to be in bed.
“What’s that?”
“It’s nothing. Go to bed.”
“Can I see?”
“You’ll think it’s boring. You should be in bed.”
“I won’t. I promise.”
She looked up at me somewhat desperately. I couldn’t help it but to wonder if she had an idea as to what demons laid in that box. If she held the slightest idea, it would explain her new found curiosity of the white box I have yet to open since I filled it 6 months before. I knew that I would not be able to get out of showing her if she knew that the slips of paper would answer questions about the memories she had lost the same time I filled it. I struggled with the idea as to whether or not I was a good mother. Was it wrong of me to hide missing pieces of her past from her? No, I was protecting her. I had to keep telling myself  I was protecting her from the cold, hard realities of life. I would tell her when she was older; she was too young, too frail.
“Okay, let’s see what’s in here.”
I opened the box. There had to be a way that I could hide the wearisome memories from her, a way that I could still protect her. The first picture though worried me enough. It was the three of us: my daughter, her father, and I. She was little at the time, before everything went bad. We were smiling on one of the camping trips we would go on every month in the summer. It was one of her favorite things, though she barely remembered them now. We’d probably never go again. The green tent we had spent countless laughter filled nights in stood proudly in the background and the girl wore a sticky white s'more smile. Pure bliss cloaked us in ignorance that it would soon be ripped from us.
“I miss Daddy. When is he coming home?”
“I don’t know for sure. He’ll be home though.”
“It seems like forever.”
“I know it does.”
I hated to use lies as a way to sooth her, to let her think that one day he would walk back through the door. It was impossible. Those days had left along with the memories that had once found a home in the mind of my little girl.
As expected, she asked to see another picture of her father. It would be too easy for her not to want to see more. I moved the box to sit on the other side of me. That way I could flip through, pick, and choose what I thought she could handle without a worry of her prying eyes. One more picture of her father wouldn’t hurt. It may even be beneficial for her to remember his face, and have a good image of  him. There was one of her on his shoulders, in front of his old blue pickup truck that had rust around the bottom: the one that he crashed. I felt a jolt in my heart. I hid it behind others, afraid that the truck would remind her of that day, and drown her in the truth.
Instead I found one of the girl’s first birthday. This should be safe. No one could remember their first birthday. She had just stuck her hand in the cake, and at the coaxing of her father had smeared it on my cheek. Her aunt had taken the picture without my knowledge, perfectly timed so that she looked at me giggling and he was still pointing at me, with that smile I would never forget. Even if all of my other memories vanished, like the girl’s, I found peace in the likely mislead thought that I would remember both his smile and hers. 
“Here’s one.”
“You look happy.”
“I do.”
“Why don’t you smile like that anymore?”
“Sometimes things change.”
“I don’t know. They just do.”
“I wish they didn’t.”
“Me too.”
“Can I see another one?”
I looked for one without her father.The effort was fruitless though, seeing how this was the box of memories meant to remain forgotten to her. They were all the best times we’ve had with him, times I refused to let her feel guilty about forgetting. It became harder and harder to appease her interest. I could barely hold it together already.
She loved it though, and kept asking for more. This was one moment of joy for her.  She tended to find jubilance in things like this, but the girl still struggled, petrified that one day she would forget everything. As she tried to reminisce, looking at another photograph, I found the newspaper clippings: her father’s obituary, and the article of the wreck.  Those were the two things she couldn’t see. I lifted everything in the box to place them out of sight.
“What’s that?”
“It’s nothing honey.”

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