The Importance of a Memory

Alexis - New Orleans, Louisiana
Entered on September 17, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: death, family, legacy

I believe that our memory is one of the greatest gifts granted to us and we should learn to value and treasure it forever.

Six months ago, I received a phone call that drastically changed my life. On the phone was a policeman calling to bear the news of my brother’s death. Because of my name, Alexis, I am cursed with being the first entry in his phonebook, therefore the first person the police would call. He told me to sit down, and I immediately felt like a character in an old sitcom told to take a seat before hearing the bad news. And of course the bad news came. My brother had died of vomit asphyxiation. For weeks all I could do was cry and feel as if the world had lost all brilliance and hope. I was mad at him for leaving and mad at myself for not knowing, but most of all I was mad at the world. Daniel was always available for his friends and family, and it seemed as if for one moment in time no one was there for him.

After months of coping, I can now speak of him without sobbing and now focus on his living not his death. I will always love Daniel and will always cherish his spectacular qualities. But what if I forget? What if by the time I’m 90 I won’t remember how he would never laugh but always chuckle? What if I forget his dimples or his scent? I became afraid that the memory of my brother might fade as I approach my final years. As this startling development hit me I realized the importance of a memory. Without memories we might as well not exist because they fuel the importance of a life. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech would be less influential if nobody could remember it.

I figured that our memory was like a library and if you wanted to remember something you’d just pull it off the shelf. But it’s not like that at all. Most of the time, memories are accessed through a smell, sound, or even taste .Thanks to the great diversity of smells and sounds in this world, Daniel was saved from a fate worse than death, being forgotten. The next time I smell the beach or hear a Bob Marley song I will instantly think of my brother.

My family has a slight history of Alzheimer’s, but I am not worried. The memory of my brother’s kind and loving nature is ingrained in my mind to the point that not even the strongest of causes can erase him. Daniel lives vividly not only in my mind but in my heart, a place even Alzheimer’s can’t reach.

I believe that no one should worry about forgetting a deceased loved one or a jubilant occasion, because a memory is stored in the deepest crevices of the heart where nothing can remove it. Although a memory may not always be retrieved, we know it is there, existing with other prized moments.