On 9/11, the words reverberate across the internet.
We splash memes, personal memories, and pictures across social media, and for a moment come together an remember a moment that seems indelible. Who can forget where they were that day? Who doesn’t remember the fear, the horror, the gut clenching nausea? Who doesn’t feel that little tug of nostalgia, that desire to go back to a moment where we simultaneously felt pulled apart, yet pulled together? How could you ever forget that moment?
Stop and think a moment. Look hard at your memories. Drift back and try to feel for the sharp edges. Chances are, those edges aren’t as sharp. Time blunts memories for most of us. You don’t have the same knot in your stomach in year 15 that you had in year 2. The emotion fades from bright colors to muted tones. You remember lost friends, or near misses. The hurt isn’t quite the same. Time moves in one direction- forward. With that progression, year in and year out, you lose small pieces of those memories.
That’s how humans work. Our memories only hold so much detail, for so long. Time gradually erases the details. We can remember the dates, an the broad strokes, but the details fade out. This is how life works. It’s a natural part of moving forward from any event. With time, the memories are relegated to a few. The rest of us are stuck with the words in history books and stories that were passed on.
You will forget the details. As memory goes, only the sharpest, clearest details will stand out in your mind. (Sitting on a bench outside a movie theater in Ottawa, tears dripping down my face. I can see that. I can’t see the movie I walked into as an attempt at distraction.) Your kids won’t remember at all. They weren’t old enough, and will only have your stories.
You will forget. That’s okay. You can let go of those moments. It doesn’t mean you don’t honor the moment, or those who were lost. You find a new way to remember. You remember by working to change the world, and make things better. You remember by sharing stories, and encouraging others to be good people. You remember the past by keeping lessons in mind, but still moving forward.
The world doesn’t stop spinning, and time never truly stands still. You will forget. It doesn’t mean you don’t remember.