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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

NIEZGODA: My memories hold my life

Photo by Laura Niezgoda
A sunset from Laura’s backyard during April 2020.

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about the time when I got my weighted blanket.

The weather was the same as it has been this past week. Fog hung over Milwaukee, over my childhood home in Greendale as I laid in bed with tears streaking my face. I had been sleeping for what felt like two weeks straight, my eyelids heavy with unnecessary sleep. 

A crack of light filtered through my room as my mother crept over the squeaking floor, attempting not to wake me.  My mother then laid the blanket on me, covering me and my sorrows back into a comfortable sleep.

A few days earlier, I had experienced the sudden, unexpected death of someone I was once close to, yet at the time of their passing, was now a stranger to me.

Then another death the following week. Then another the week after that one. 

I was held down by the memories of the beloved that I once held close to me, mourning the memories that never occurred with them.

As advice, people said cliche phrases. I was told that time would heal; eventually, the pain would subside and I could move on. Time didn’t heal; time made me forget.

Forgetting heals in a strange, obscure and unmonitored way. Forgetting helps us to survive the past, but remembering does the same.

There are connections to my past through nostalgia-ridden mementos.  Today, the notes of the “Hadestown” Broadway cast recording bring me back to high school, driving back home with my best friend next to me. The taste of a matcha latte with strawberry, white chocolate, and oat milk brings me back to the summer when I spent my days in the sun, reading as voraciously as I could. 

The capsules of time that I feel so connected to do not have a specific date. Sure, they certainly happened, more or less. But the way the memories now reside in my head feels timeless and unrestricted by simple dates and years. The time in which they occurred does not matter to me, because recalling them with the limitation of the construct of time does not aid my formed perspective.

This year, the cool spring air on March 1 brushing my bare legs returned me to early March 2020, moments before the world’s global perspective shifted.

Remembering those lonely, long months conflicts me. My last few months of high school gone. I no longer got to make Kahoots with my friends to determine who knew the other more. I no longer would speak with my teachers about Catherine the Great or what my graduation dress should have been. I no longer got to perform in the place that gave me my voice.

Yet, I remember the serenity and ease I felt sitting outside on the first warm day of spring in April 2020 and reading “Jane Eyre” while listening to the village bells chime Willy Wonka’s “Pure Imagination” theme. Amidst the chaos and loss, I remember feeling grateful that I was alive.

Those moments, those fleeting, beautiful, brief moments are the memories that I long for when recalling moments in my life. 

The flaw in memory is you remember the moment, but recalling a memory is so far removed from the actual sensation of living within that moment. I will never be able to relive yesterday, but I can recall it. No longer can I act in a moment, all I can do is reflect. 

I find it hard to mention here that I have a notoriously bad memory. I would like to say that it’s worse than a lot of people’s, but seeing that I cannot quantify that, I hope that you can just trust me when I say it is bad.

Despite my awful memory, I want to remember every moment of being alive. My commitment to being human is embedded in my memories. My memories have my history and will, one day, contain my future, meaning that my experience and my unbridled desire to live a fulfilling life will be formed by those memories. 

I want to remember. The spring air messing up my hair. The early morning sunrises with friends. The pain of losing a loved one. The failure on a quiz. The humorous, overheard conversations by friends. The feeling of envy by not being able to engage. 

Every memory, the good and the bad, is the most important contribution to my experience as a human.

This story was written by Laura Niezgoda. She can be reached at [email protected]

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