I don’t remember when I began to remember, if that makes any sense at all. There is only the memory. A pricking in my foot as my stubby little toes squelched in the wetness of the ocean earth. I had a splinter, and I didn't care. I had to get to the half rotten redwood stump just a few feet ahead. I would be safe there. I could hide and he couldn't find me. My chubby legs carried me as fast as they could, but still he caught up to me and snatched my arm saying, “Tag. You’re it!” To which I promptly replied with the delighted shriek of a child, just budding out of babyhood.
I was two, running through the backyard of my Aunt Rose’s house. The memory comes to me in a haze, as if seen through an old camera lens, blurred about the edges. It seems faded, while at the same time burning with clarity. I can still smell the bark beneath my toes and feel my fat cheeks, flushed with exertion, the wispy orange hair clinging to them in the mist. As one memory rushes upon me, so another presents itself just as quickly and they begin to entangle each other much like the feeling of spiraling thought right before sleep comes.
The sleep of the mind cannot take me long. Memories of the lazy days of childhood when knights and witches and dragons existed seem to shatter much the same as a fragile window pane struck with a stone. In drifts the frigid breeze of reality, the tendrils of grief pulling at me like thousands of tiny hands, wishing to rip away whatever lasting illusion my mind houses. Those days of childish illusion have long gone, replaced instead with a deep knowledge of real circumstance that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth… the knowledge that I ran in Aunt Rose’s back yard because I would otherwise be running next to my mother’s grave leaves me at a loss for words. How is one to interpret her life, when she’d only just realized the extent of the truth? I can only think to share the feelings of my heart during the memory, because beyond that, there is no honesty.
It's hard not to feel bitter when I see the false front to the happy times. I must remember not to revel in the sadness of it all. Instead, I'll celebrate the light of the childhood my mother gave to me.