A few years ago, I decided to take a slightly objective point of view to this blog site. Although it is nearly impossible not to inject my feelings, I wanted to chronicle Jordan’s story so that she could appreciate it years later. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to distance myself, but more that I wanted the site to be about her, rather than me.
This post is an exception to the rule. This post comes from inside. It might make you uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable. But, it’s part of the journey.
I connect my laptop to a secondary display when I’m docked at home. It’s my way of nerding out whenever I can, but it doesn’t always get a lot of use. When I’m not moving files over to it, it just shows random pictures of the family. This evening, it cycled through several of my favorite photos of Jordan. She is so beautiful. At times I had to stop what I was doing to just admire the photos. That’s when I thought of the memento factor, or TMF for short. TMF has haunted me since Jordan was first diagnosed. It’s a strange, unsettling feeling that washes over you at the oddest times. It’s charged with sentamentality, forced nostalgia and unwarranted remorse. It’s the feeling you get when you think that what you’re experiencing must be preserved because it will be all that is left one day.
The first time I really succombed to TMF was in Hawaii, shortly after the photo shown in the header of this blog was taken. Jordan and I were walking on the beach in Ka’anapali, goofing around and having much fun. The sun was setting and we admired the picturesque scenery around us. Jeanette and Luc skirted around us at different times, but Jordan and I were kind of in our own world. We got to laughing about something as we tip toed around the surf. We stopped and Jordan walked a few steps into the water, enjoying its warmth. I stared down at the beach and watched her footstep erode into the sand. It was then that it hit me. Without any warning, I was out cold with emotion. I had to turn away so that Jordan wouldn’t notice. Jeanette knew something was wrong. She tried to catch up to me as I quicked the pace of my leisurely stroll on the beach. When she got to me, my eyes were puffy and I looked like a wreck. She asked what was wrong and I told her. I told her that I worried that the next time we visited Hawaii, we’d be a smaller family.
The Memento Factor saps the soul. It doesn’t just draw upon your worst fears, it saddles you with guilt. You shouldn’t be thinking this, you tell yourself. It’s not the way to support her, you appeal. Yet, still, when it crashes upon you, stoicism is a challenge. It’s difficult to describe because it is not as pessimistic and jaded as it may sound. It’s driven by fear–a fear that what you know about your loved one may be hard to recall one day, that the essence of the experience might be lost forever. It’s no different than what I imagine people feel when a parent or spouse is aging and time seems compressed, fleeting. It conjures panic–you panic that you must do everything you can to preserve the beauty and the brilliance of the life before you, and there just isn’t enough time, words or memory cells to do it.
I don’t mean for this post to cause alarm. Jordan is doing well. She is a survivor, and that is not idle lip service. I’ve spent enough time with her to bet the whole bucket of chips on her. But we’re all nervous these days. She’s been sick more than usual. She’s having headaches again. She’s visibly anxious, herself. The whole family has a collective bad feeling about the upcoming week. We shouldn’t. We know. We don’t speak of it. But we feel it. I feel it. I watch Jordan busily at play around the house and I run for my camera, or jott down a few notes about the bent of her expression or the iconic way she shared a thought with me. I feel the need to capture memetos. Perhaps they will be used one day when I am a grandfather, sharing stories with Jordan’s children while she sits beside me. I certainly hope that is the case. Perhaps these thoughts and mementos will breathe life into a character for my writing–a character Jordan and I will laugh about together. There are many possibilities, but only one that stops me cold in my tracks. I think sometimes it is better to consider it, than let it stalk me with its predatory probabilities and vampiric sentiment.