Flashbacks and Memories That Haunt Us Forever

There are some memories that you hold on to.  You can’t let them go.  They remain with you night and day, haunting your every waking moment and slipping into your dreams in the dark of night.  There are other memories that are buried deep, beneath the surface of remembering.  You never quite remember them, and then something happens, you see a familiar face, hear an echo of the past, catch a smell that draws it forth, and for a moment you are overwhelmed by thoughts you had so long ago.

Today, while sitting at the AC STL ERT office watching videos created at the Volunteer Reception Center (VRC) in the wake of Joplin, I was hit with one of those waves of memories.  And the same fears, struggles, and living nightmares that one time paralyzed me came rushing forth once again.

I remember the stories that came out of Joplin because I have written them down.  I remember what I did, what I saw, and the images because I had set out to tell the story of AmeriCorps in Joplin.  I have images that were captured through the lens of a camera and actions written through lines and words on the page, but there was so much lost from those moments I wandered through the wreckage and sat with survivors as they shared their darkest moments from that night.

Sitting there, I began to see faces, to recognize individuals.  Teammates from NCCC.  Volunteers that came in day after day.  People who were willing to extend a helping hand, lend a shoulder to cry on.  I heard voices that unlocked the memories stored in vaults of the mind in a futile attempt to protect myself.

The memories are hard to comprehend, but they come so vividly.  And just as quickly as they came, their fleeting moments passed back into the unknown.

Nobody noticed the distinct smell that forced me from the room as we stood for break.  Nobody could hear the shouting that echoed through my ears that drowned out everyone talking in the room.  Nobody felt the chill that settled in the air around us.

Our minds try to protect us, burying these thoughts and memories deep down in the unknown.  While they  used to frighten me, I am no longer scared of them.  I used to see them as failures, things that I was unable to help, but now I welcome them with a smile because they have become a part of who I am.

I have accepted these fears because I know that they have helped me to grow into the young man I am now.  Without those experiences, I don’t know where I’d be.

So when your memories escape the darkness of your thoughts, remember that you have a choice to choose to run from them, or accept them as an old friend.

God Bless and PEACE

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1 Comment »

  1. Mari Said:

    our memories glue our past and our future together–for in the moment that a memory appears, the present thought creeps in and either a smile or a tear develop……and then we move on love you sean


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