Make Lots Of Memories

Make Memories


Over the holidays, Cole and I were pulling the three (yes, three) toddler-size elves out of their storage boxes when one of, Dearly Departed, Joe’s index cards came out of the last elf’s box. The handwritten note card was titled “Silence” and featured a quote by Kafka. I remarked to Cole that his dad must have been thinking of us and Cole responded with his all-too-common yeah, right look. I chose not to answer the look.

He’s right, you know. I can’t prove his dad sent us a sign from the great beyond. The wallet I bought Cole for Christmas was the wrong size, and while we were waiting on the exchange Cole decided to use one of his dad’s wallet, which looked like it had never been used. Adding the bills, bits and sundry that goes with changing wallets, Cole unexpectedly pulled out yet another index card that his dad had folded over and written on. This one included the word joy. I could feel Cole’s pull toward the card and refrained from commenting.

My teen skeptic has no use for God right now in his life. He does not believe in a creator or the great beyond. What is done is done, he feels. You live and you die. And sometimes, like we all do, he wonders, “And what, really is the point? We are all going to die someday.” He speaks matter-of-factly about all the people he loves that will someday die. You can almost hear him sigh as he counts the number of people in his dad’s family that he will more than likely outlive. (Fortunately, my side of the family contributes less to his death toll.) He isn’t looking for me to make him feel better, as he is not particularly sad at the moment.

Naturally, these conversations tear at my heart, but over time I’ve learned to listen and ask questions through the eyes of an inquiring scientist. “Really, you think this is all there is? Seems like a lot of work for only one lifetime.” Or, “Wouldn’t it seem smart to err on the side of believing in a more universal power, or afterlife, just in case?” And, “You don’t feel the presence of your dad in your life at all? Ever?” He would like to say no, but he doesn’t. He’s admits to not being sure. He asks me if perhaps interpretations of signs are not simple consequence, or questions my unwillingness to accept that when we die, it is over.

We don’t argue. We ponder, muse, and weave in out of these conversations late at night, during long car drives, or when we come upon an unexpected note card written by his dad. The value is in the questioning, not in determining an answer.

We wonder if there is a happily ever after.

A friend’s mom dies suddenly, bringing sorrow and fear. I call my mom. I call my dad. I intone silently… Please, just don’t die. Not now, not ever. I struggle with the mere thought of what my son has already faced.

I speak with my friend, and she tells me stories about her mom. Later that day, something comical happens that makes Cole and me remember a funny story about his dad, and a few days later Cole tries on a shirt we both know his dad would have loved. It looks so right on him. I begin to see a connection. Faltering, I wonder aloud to Cole if a “sign” might be explained as a left-behind memory of a departed person that we recall when we need to feel connected to that person. Cole likes that idea and adds that those kinds of signs would not always be happy, or good. Yes, I agree.

We are both quiet for a while. A good quiet.

Then, Cole looks at me and says, “Maybe the point, then, is to make a lot of memories.


Odd Loves Company,


Quote on the index card: “You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

17 thoughts on “Make Lots Of Memories

  1. First, let me say how sorry I am that you lost your husband and Cole’s father. My dad died of a heart attack when I was 19 and my youngest sibling was only 8. I think it’s really cool to have found this card. What a sweet message from beyond! I would love to find something like that from my father!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • Those little bits of papers, and index cards that use to be so aggravating are wonderful to find now. And do tend to show up at the “right time.”

      Thanks Kathy!

  2. Very nice story, Katybeth. I really believe that it takes age to come to terms on what is and what will be. I can’t imagine not having God in my life now. There was a time I didn’t think about what happens to us, but the older I get, the more I know/feel there is a rainbow bridge for all of us. There has to be….I am waiting to meet up with all my furry babies that are waiting for ME! And of course relatives.

    • Thanks, Carol. So true. Our relationships with god and spirituality do seem to shift. As a teen it is appropriate for Cole to question everything—-in fact some people believe you should give kids religion and piano lessons for that reason–so they have something safe to rebel against :-D.
      Sorry, your furry babies will have to wait a long time. Not their turn!! ♥

  3. I love this ~ and I don’t think it is a coincidence that you find two (not just one) index cards, and they say “silence” and “joy.” Don’t we have to be silent to realize our joy? Yes, we do. We feel joy when it is happening but we do not think “oh, this is joy”. When we are silent, later, we think about what it was to feel happy, to feel joy. We reflect on our joy.

    • Interesting connection about silence and joy. “Thinking about what it was to feel happy, to feel joy” I like that a lot! Thanks.

  4. What a beautiful post, Katybeth. I love it. I love that you find little pieces of Joe after all these years and I am a strong believer as you know it the fact that those are not coincidences or just something that happened. To me it is a God thing telling you and Cole that Joe is still very much a part of your lives. And yes—others may choose to have a different understanding like Cole and that is fine —-no judgment from me. I am so glad that you shared this. Sharing it everywhere—good writing, my friend. Good writing. Thank you.

    • I feel the same way as you do, just not all the time. It’s hard when Cole doubts Joe’s presence because Joe lived and breathed Cole. And I’ve had to ask myself why Cole feels he has no connection with his Dad. Over time I’ve learned (I think), in order for Cole to accept Joe’s presence from the beyond he has to let go of him being with him now and all the emotions around why he isn’t here now. He’s also at the age where he has to question everything. But in time (I believe) Cole will connect with Joe and accept a new relationship.

  5. Well stated. I like Cole’s point – to make a lot of memories. I will take that to heart.

    My mom passed in 2000. I miss her most when I am with Ben – she was always so happy to spend time with him. They used to make each other laugh until they cried with funny stories and practical jokes. And yet there are times when I could swear she’s with us. My 6 siblings have all felt the same over the years. So it is our theory that our dearly departed mom spends her after life with each of us in turn, and always when we need her most.

    • I’m sure your Mom does spend time with each of you! And isn’t it amusing that even in the afterlife we believe the dearly departed would have nothing better to do than to spend time with us! I’ve often said to Joe, “You better never run off with a heavenly angel—I will announce when the “until death do we part” comes!

  6. Katybeth, what a beautiful, heartfelt piece of writing this is!
    You know, living with a Pisces child means having to tackle issues like this. Pisces, as you know, is the end of the zodiac but contains elements of the beginning as well — life and death, two fishes (one swimming toward the light and the other to the depths). It doesn’t surprise me at all that Cole would feel as he does. Having lost his dad at such an early age, he’s probably more introspective about death than most of his peers. That said, I do hope he’ll find the light, that he will see that a deep personal relationship with the Creator isn’t a crutch but a lifeline.
    You’re such a good mom not forcing your opinions on Cole but letting him question and ponder to his heart’s content. Those notes from Joe, rather than being something to make Cole sad, seem to me to be reassurance that there *is* an afterlife, and that Joe is looking down and smiling with love.

    • Thank you for understanding! Poor me—a Leo —I married a Pisces (I looked for a Gemini) and had a Pisces child. Both ready to drown me in thoughtful, melancholic questions and conversation :-D. Thanks for pointing that out. So true about the introspection.
      In my comment to Beth Ann ^^ I explained what I think keeps Coles connection to his dad and possible a creator or universal force a little fuzzy. While Cole has not been reared around formal religion, we have always lived a spiritual life which is more a part of him than he might realize, right now.
      Thank you for the thoughtful comment!

  7. I think all these Joe jottings that appear periodically will mean more to Cole as he matures. Cole is trying to make sense out of each slip of paper of Joe’s that is found. Is Cole the type to keep deep thoughts to himself? The child who losses his/her dad at an early age has life experiences unlike most others. Thoughts & beliefs are formed at a young age. I lost my dad to cancer when I was 8 years old. I understand.

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