We will not always be able to hold her close. The words we write here let us try. Although I imagine, in the future, reading these words and looking at these images will feel like trying to hug a favorite song, trying to dance with a beloved aroma.

I wasn’t familiar with the term “confabulate” until recently, when Andy explained that it’s a word they use at the hospital to describe the way people who suffer brain injuries invent stories, fantasies that unconsciously emerge as factual accounts in memory.  From what I’ve learned, perfectly healthy individuals confabulate, too, to help make sense of the world.
Already I’ve forgotten things. I close my eyes and earnestly reach into the corners of my mind, hoping to stumble across happy details. I’m frustrated when I can’t recall specifics, when I second guess whether she did something or said something. And it worries me to think that, as time passes, I’ll fail to remember even more. We don’t have video of her standing at the back door greeting Andy after work, uttering the only sentence she ever said, “Hi Daddy.” The photos we've collected won't allow us to touch the wrinkles in her chubby legs or hear her precious giggle. And we may, in fact, wind up embellishing the things we do remember, filling gaps in memory with fabrication.
Recent conversation with friends gave validity to the notion that the most distressing memories have the most persistent presence.  Although these days aren’t free from stress, this time last year was difficult in different ways. There are details from that time that I can neither fathom nor shake.  Things I'd rather not remember.
But I want to remember, well and accurately, the good times, the happy details, the real things.  And so tonight I’ll attempt to commit a few minutes from today, I'll try to stash the time I spent holding Celia in the sanctuary listening to the handbell ensemble.  She seemed to enjoy the ringing tones.  Her hair was tousled, and I brushed it from her forehead. I cradled her back with one arm, and clutched her fingers with the opposite hand. Our bodies were warm, fleece pressed to wool.  This afternoon I held her close.


  1. Jenni,
    Your writing struck a huge, immearsurable cord in me. Even more scary than losing her is the thought of forgetting her. And I don't mean literally but in the good way, because the not so good will be more in the forefront of your mind. You have no control over what happens physically to Celia as this disease steals her. But what you think you do control is the abilitly to hold onto those memories of her. Each special thing she ever did, said, was a part of. It still makes me physically sick at times when all I can recall are the times that gave us all such pain instead of the times that gave us joy. I even rationalize that we didn't realize we were supposed to be cataloging it at the time to make my failure to remember okay. I will say my Mom remembers much more of the "good" than I do because that's what Moms do. After she's gone, I know it will difficult and frustrating. Some things will be confablated but that's not what matters. It's that in each one of our minds and hearts she will continue to live as we knew and loved her best; confabulated, fuzzy, unclear-who take what you can get and hold on tightly.

  2. Jenni,
    Praying that your days would be filled with sweet memories with precious Celia to last a lifetime.

  3. The best way to "make a memory" is try to engage all or as many of your senses as you can like you did tonight. It's a bit cheesy, but if you ever watched "The Parent Trap" with Haley Mills, there is a point where she meets her grandfather for the first time and she keeps sniffing his coat, because she is "making a memory" and always wants to remember his scent, tobacco and peppermint (if I recall correctly).

    The sounds of the bells, her warmth next to you, the feeling of running your fingers on her forehead, all of those together, that's how you will anchor today in your mind. I am thankful today that you found that moment, to make a memory with your sweetest Celia.

  4. Celia is unforgettable.