I’ve been thinking a lot about memories from the perspective of how much my kiddos will remember before my diagnosis of Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) in 2017 and afterwards. At the time of my diagnosis, the boys were two (2) and four (4) and I was legitimately concerned that if the average life expectancy applied to me, they wouldn’t remember much about me. Now that it’s been five (5) years and a lot has changed, I don’t worry so much that they won’t remember me, more so that their memories won’t be positive or will just be full of me sleeping or getting sick after treatment.
This MBC thing is hard on the families of the patients.
Remember those questions you answered about your parents at school? Well, those are pretty illuminating as to what our kiddos are thinking. Here’s one that my nine (9) year old filled out recently:
Some of my earliest memories are about my parents and interactions with them at different ages. Most of those same memories involve siblings as well since we spent a lot of time together at home. We consciously or unconsciously mimic our parents in many different ways and certainly those foundational memories from our childhoods shape the rest of our lives.
I read in a book called Twilight Wife by Carol Ann Morris, about a woman who has had a head injury and is working to regain her memory, that “Smells can evoke memories in powerful ways. The smell goes to the olfactory bulb, which is directly connected to the parts of the brain involved in emotions and memory”.
Whether that explanation is scientific or not, I have personally experienced a lot of PTSD associated with smells and sounds related to the treatment I’ve received. I try to keep this in mind as I move forward with my treatment and also when thinking about what smells to wear as perfume or essential oils to diffuse. These things will become some of my children’s foundational childhood memories.
When I was a new mom, I read a lot of blogs and other articles that talked about how moms are always the ones taking the pictures and are never in them. Most of advice included recommendations to take selfies, to be in pictures no matter what we look like, because we can never get that time back. For me, this effort includes asking my husband to take pictures since he doesn’t always pull out his phone instinctively and also scheduling professional photoshoots regularly, I’ve also scheduled photographers for birthday parties or at least assigned the task of taking photos to a friend.
Memories are a funny thing and I hope to leave enough breadcrumbs behind for my kiddos to hold onto memories of our time together.