The forgotten photograph.

         Para a versão em Português, clique aqui.

     Once upon a time in the future, and she can’t remember a single thing. Can’t remember her wedding day, the many trips she took, all the places she had been to. Can’t remember her children’s birth dates, nor their first days in school, nor the days they left home. But she does remember their faces; she kept the people, but forgot the facts.

      Nothing is as important as the story it carries within, but hers isn’t hers anymore. Everyday, she holds on to whatever others tell her about the adventures of her lifetime, even though not everything seems true or right. She can’t guess if she would really climb a mountain, but she can’t remember if she was ever scared of heights. Some stories seem so simple she can’t believe she could have forgotten them. But that’s what she got – she fell asleep, and, one day later, everything was gone.

         “Have I so far lived a life worth living?”

     With love, every weekend, she would sit down with her husband, children, grandchildren, siblings and friends and examine all of the memories she kept all those years. And they would tell her about party dresses, first kisses, family trips, parties they went. The photographs were many, the objects as well. Luckily, she had always been a storyteller. All of her children and grandchildren could tell where she had bought each of the snowglobes in her collection. And they would retell her the same stories she had first told them, so many times, before she forgot everything. They all knew the first drinks she had in every glass and mug she had kept, and why some book covers were dirtier than others. She would smile, hearing about a life that was hers, as if it was someone elses’s. Maybe tomorrow she would forget that as well.

      “Nana”, her third older granddaughter, nearly grown-up, asked her, one day, “do you remember the people in this picture?”

     It was a small photograph, slightly blurry, but no one there could tell much more about it. “I suppose these were good friends of mine. But I don’t know why.”. The landscape seemed cold and bucolic, but they were all smiles. Rocks, yellow winter fields, and a grey foggy sky. Anyone smart enough would have guessed they were in the English countryside. “I would guess this is in the English countryside, ma”, her smarter daughter spoke, “but, unfortunately, I have reasons to believe all these friends have already passed away. I can recall having been to at least one funeral with you”.

She careful and sadly examined the photograph. If they were all gone, as well as her memory, who else could remember that day? Five beautiful happy young people, but no one could tell the reason they smiled. The frozen moment would last forgotten. The whole room remained in silence, for much longer than it was usual in that family.

     “Nana”, her only great-grandson, almost gone through childhood, that dreamt of being Peter Pan just like she used to, “I can make up a story for your picture, then you can be happy like that again! Could I, please?”

     He rapidly sat down next to her. He was quite clever. His mommy had told him nana would no longer remember that they used to read Peter Pan everytime he stayed at ther place for the weekend. He kept bringing the book with him, though, but he would read her stories about Neverland. And, now, he would read a story in the subtle lines of that picture no one knew a thing about.

     “You’re all smiling, nana, because you’ve just eaten magical delicious food that makes you feel really really happy! You and your two friends are sitting down on the rocks because you ran a lot to get there! You would stop by to play with every animal on the way up! Your friends standing would shout at you all the time ‘Girls, come quickly, before it’s too cold!’, but you didn’t want just to get on the top, you wanted to have fun! The grass is only half green because winter came just like a wave, that destroyed just little by little, and that’s why only half of it has been burnt by the cold! The picture is blurry because even the person who took it was very cold, but forgot to bring gloves! And I’m sure you left home very early, to have the most fun before the Sun was gone! You may not be holding each other, nana, but I know you were holding each other in your hearts, because I think you really loved these friends, nana. I’m sure you loved them a lot, just like I love you.”

     And she really loved them. That, she could tell. She loved them all – the friends in the photographs, the children, the grandchildren, the great-grandchild, the husband. She couldn’t remember a thing, but she knew that, whoever had this much love in life, should have lived an amazing life. On that day, they stayed up later, making up new stories about the photos and objects whose real stories no one could tell.

     [This post is part of the 80 Somethings project. Read more about it here.]

“Look at this photograph!”

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