I seemed to have entered a new phase or season in this grieving process, and I’m not necessarily a big fan of it. Every day, multiple times a day, the oddest thing will bring back a memory of my life with Dale. The frequency and the intensity are greater than in the months soon after his death. And it’s not the items you would expect, like a past anniversary card, or his wallet, or other sentimental events.
Oh no, it’s the TV commercial about metal paneling for your garage or out-building. Yep, that takes me immediately back to when we built our home and barn on our last acreage. And not just to the recollection of that event, but to the feelings and emotions that surrounded that time of our lives.
Or maybe it’s the commercial for the Italian restaurant that sends me instantly back to Gino’s Italian restaurant over on Sixth Avenue. That was “our place.” I often called it our Cheers, because everyone knew our name. (Even the grandkids would invoke Grandpa’s name to try and get an advantage on a busy night…) It had been Dale’s hangout since the ‘70s and it became ours as well. Every memory from our dinner dates there is a happy one. So, this TV commercial blindsided me when I least expected it.
And just so you don’t think that all I do is watch TV commercials, I can be cooking something fairly mundane in the kitchen and have the same phenomenon occur. It’s not necessarily even a meal we had together often, but somehow, I’m still transported back to a happy time revolving around a similar meal.
Seeing happy couples anywhere, TV, movies, real life, also brings a little stab to my heart as I long for those days that we had. And don’t even get me started on music! Always emotion tied to those love songs.
Powerful, take-me-back-in-time type emotions associated with all of these memories.
In case you’re wondering, it is always a happy memory and yet it almost always leads me to tears. I guess that would be the definition of “bittersweet.” I’m SO blessed to have had these happy times to miss, and yet there’s also always a sadness knowing they are over.
There is a general phenomenon that I’d guess many of us have experienced in our lives where we mostly remember the good times in our past. I’ve always suspected that our minds were somehow shielding us from bad memories, times that we’d rather forget.
I wondered if there was any science behind this, so I went to my friend Google and, lo and behold, there was an article in the Scientific American that did in fact discuss the conclusion that there are some connections in our brain between a couple of key areas that can cause memory “extinction,” particularly with unpleasant or fearful experiences. How about that?! Enough science for now. Take it or leave it.
It might make sense to assign that phenomenon to what I’m going through right now – remembering and grieving over all the good times, as if that is all we ever had. And perhaps there is some truth to that.
But despite the science, I have a different theory. Simply put, I don’t believe there’s anything to grieve about the difficult times. Why would you long for and miss past difficulties? (This is different from having regrets over things in our past, which is a topic for another day!)
But there is MUCH to grieve about the good times. And please don’t misunderstand – Dale and I had BOTH kinds throughout our 35+ year relationship. We lived in the real world where things like pride and stubbornness and self-centeredness and insecurities and impatience and health problems and dementia and…stole our joy on a regular basis. But is there really anything to grieve about those times? Do we miss that? I think not!
So, to officially bring the title topic of rose-colored glasses into the discussion, I would like to publicly declare that I am NOT viewing my past life with Dale through them. I am not sad that any of our sin-driven bad moments are over. I am only missing those moments where God showered blessings into our lives in big and small ways, literally for decades. For that I am eternally grateful, and for that, I am now grieving.
And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. Ezekiel 34:26 ESV