My July 14, 2016 post, Remembering Diane, turned out to be a big one. Big, in that it was read by more people than any other of my posts in the last 3 1/2 years. I am overjoyed by that ~ it is one more way that Diane’s good good soul can live on.
I know that she touched many lives, and there are countless people in the world who have fond memories of Diane. As I wrote the post I felt very much that I should know more than I do about the person she was. I mentioned in the post that I had very few specific memories of her and that’s true. But now that the idea of her memories has surfaced I believe that more will come to me.
What I wasn’t expecting, and is such a gift, is a comment from my cousin, who read the post and then shared this with me:
“I hope you know how much Diane looked up to you and admired you. She always wished she was as popular as you. She was in her own way, but she wished the boys would be crazy about her like they were about you. I think that was one of her favorite things about you.”
I did not know this ~ had never heard it before and was a bit taken aback when I first read it. When one person is taken from another I suspect it’s natural to hope that, in the time you had together, you made an impact on the person in some way. It means a great deal to know that my sister admired me (though I hope it wasn’t only because she ‘wished the boys would be crazy about her’. She may never have known how other people felt about her, any more than any of us really do. From where I sat while we were growing up, she was so easily loved by everyone she met. I certainly hope she felt that.
Memories are undependable. Sometimes you remember an event, but not the correct setting or persons. Sometimes unrelated memories get combined in the mind and shift what we think we know about the details of the situation. Was this just my memories or do other people experience the same inaccuracies, I wondered.
My research revealed some interesting ideas about memory.
Memories are not permanent and immutable. Both mundane, everyday memories and significant ones change over time. Studies have shown that even subtle suggestions can cause people to remember things that never happened! We don’t recall a memory the same way every time—our memories grow and change in the retelling. Our memories do tend to become more internally consistent over time, better fitting our own views of ourselves. But decades of research have documented how much our memory is influenced by what we know and believe. Memories are not pure recordings of what we experience. We only perceive and notice a small subset of the information available in the world, far less than a camera takes in.
I found reading about some of the memory research reassuring. When I’ve chatted with my older sister, revisiting childhood events that we shared, it has always surprised and confused me that our recall is so varied. For me, memories can be elusive – another reminder of the importance of being fully present in all we do. In the age of multitasking I suspect our recall will be even more inaccurate.
I look forward to memories of Diane coming my way in the future, either through my own recall, or from more little stories and sharing of other people’s memories with me.