“The babysitter’s coming tomorrow.” I say as we shuffle back and forth in the bathroom getting ready for bed. “I have to see my Psychiatrist,” I add, drawing out the word in a way that makes it sound fancy.
Even now, seven months after hospitalization, I’m still uncomfortable with the idea of being one of those people.
“When was your last appointment?” my husband asks from his seat on the radiator, speaking over and around the toothbrush in his mouth.
“Um, I’m not sure. Maybe February?”
At the sink, I pull my toothbrush from the cup and squeeze out a daub of toothpaste. “It’s kinda silly, I still have prescriptions I haven’t filled because I’m not going through them as quickly as I could.” In fact I’d been tempted to cancel the appointment this week – it felt inconvenient, coming on my kids’ first day of spring break and unnecessary as I really didn’t need any refills.
After a pause, I add, “I think it’s important, though, to help me remember.” Then, in case he doesn’t know what I mean, I continue, “I was in the hospital, ya know? It was a big deal. It is a big deal. I don’t want to forget how hard it was, how close we were to the edge.”
The edge of what, I do not say, but I feel it. The edge of darkness, the edge of all-consuming fear.
“Do you feel like you forget?” he asked.
“Yes, I do.”
I forget because I don’t want to remember. I forget because no one wants to talk about it, hardly anyone asks. I forget because I’m afraid – afraid that it happened in the first place, afraid it could happen again.
The pill bottles help me to remember. Pulling the two red bottles from the cabinet, putting in the extra time to cut pills down to size for the days and weeks ahead, feels like a welcome humility.
I continue to see a counselor, perhaps more often than she thinks I need. Those hours set aside on the calendar remind me to look at myself, to come up for air and do a systems’ check.
And the appointments with the psychiatrist who listens briefly before handing out her scripts, they help too. Driving up to the building, I enter the same door I excited that bright August day. Every time I face that place, I face the past; I face a part of myself that paid a price for being neglected for far too long and I remember.
I don’t want to forget again.
It may seem counter-intuitive or self-punishing in some strange way, but in the Christian tradition we acknowledge remembrance as a necessary part of the journey toward healing, toward resurrection. This is what we do in Lent and Holy Week. We re-walk the steps, re-read the texts, take, break and eat the wine and the bread. We re-enact the suffering and saving so that we will remember.
We don't want to forget.
We tell the story of our own bondage and salvation; we return to the tomb if only to remember how cold and deep the darkness was before we saw the first piercing shaft of light.
May your remembering be blessed. May you find the courage to not forget.