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Every pulsating pound of my heart is sustained with memories, kept alive only now in my heart, and in the still framed pictures that serve as an occasional reminder.
Memories of my first snowman, built with my brother, a sloppily constructed masterpiece.
Memories of birthdays gone by. With miniature flowered cakes, and my niece greedily ripping the colored paper that concealed my gifts, because she could not harness her excitement through my delicate, meticulous tearing.
Memories of sledding in laundry baskets, down mounds of snow that had been pushed out of the driveway, but to my niece, my brother, and I were steep mountains.
Memories of pumpkin patches and hot apple cider.
Memories of countless Halloweens, each year a different costume: a cow, a dog, an angel, a bride. My niece and I carrying matching bags with black cats in orange hats on the side; my brother carrying a hard plastic Jack-o-lantern shaped container. We vowed to eat all of the candy in one night every year. Of course, we never did.
Memories of the beach. Sandy potato chips, the pungent odor of tanning lotion, sunsets.
Memories of running through a sprinkler on a sweltering summer’s day, wet grass clinging to my legs.
Memories of swings. Leaning back until I could only see my feet in the air, believing that if I wanted to, I could let go and soar into the sky, dive between each wispy cloud, or maybe rest atop their pillow-like surfaces.
Memories of my father, when he still had his mustache, teaching us how to play basketball.
Memories of trying on my mother’s shoes, wondering if it was possible that I could ever grow big enough to fit into them.
Memories of Christmas. Music, laughter, smiles. My brother and I running out to the living room to rip apart the artfully presented pile of carefully wrapped toys. Bragging to my niece about what I had received.
Memories of later dismantling the tree, piece by piece, when the holiday was over. Hearing where each ornament came from. The one with the beaver carrying his tree, is from my parents first Christmas together. “Dear, look at this one, remember when we got it...” they would say.
Memories of my sister and her husband, trying to keep us out from under the bush that we had deemed our clubhouse. Comforting my brother when my niece and I teased him.
Memories of one pushing us down the slide, the other catching us at the bottom.
Memories of longing to stay with them forever.
Happy memories. Because even the ones where I’m crying or angry are followed closely by a reassuring hug, a pat on the back, and the promise that tomorrow would be a better day. My heart thrives on them, because they remind me of life’s simple perfections. They comfort me, like warm hot chocolate on a cold day. When I remember, I feel safe. My childhood: beautiful, happy, a paradise I never want to leave behind.