And So It Is, loss

The Body Remembers

July 15, 2012

Deep inside, just past the gristle and bones part of you, lies the memory of a memory. Sleeping like a lazy cat somewhere in the part of you that has forgotten its own name but remembers the sound of it.

July 15, 1983 was hot and muggy and humid. I actually do not remember this at all but I assume that somewhere it was this way.

I was in South New Jersey and my father was dying and I am quite sure it was hot and muggy and humid because how else could it have been?

Every year I forget until I remember.

There is an urgency in the weight of my footsteps as if they are trying to get somewhere without me. I hear my voice and realize there is something behind the words but I am not sure what it is until I hear the date spoken aloud.

Ah! The date my father died A voice that either belongs to me or doesn’t speaks inside my mind.

This is why I love yoga: It unburies the sounds of things you have buried in your body.

It’s the body that remembers. Always.

It’s the body that is the sleeping cat.

The mind cannot be trusted. The mind will tell you it has forgotten, while the body! The body will never  lie.

The body cradles the memory within it and will show it to you in a flash as you buy milk at the store or fold forward in a yoga pose. The body will remind you that today is the day your father died all those years ago.

If the body forgot there would be no more memories and today might just be another day on the calendar, like any other with its weather and dust and cups of coffee and love and disappointments.

Today is the day my father died in the middle of the night before his heart could be pumped back in time. And although I do not mark it down anywhere on any calendar, and although I sometimes I do try and forget, my body remembers and there comes a moment on July 15, no matter what year, when I bow my head and shake my fist at the sky.

Forgive your muscles and your joints for not forgetting, for keeping that imprint alive in such a way that one day you will look back on your life and whisper to it: Dear Life, Of all the things I have forgotten, and there have been many, I thank you for taking these snapshots and leaving them with me in stone, because without them I would be insufferable with wonder at how the events of my life slipped past me before I was able to discover who I was in time.

So go ahead and think you are forgetting. It won’t matter. You aren’t and you can’t.

There is an imprint in you that says: This is when this happened. 

The stamp has been laid.

So let your mind be open and go ahead and buy milk in the store, and every once in a while when you feel a pang in your heart or a splurge of oh my God in your bones, please understand what it is:

It is your life, trying to be remembered.

I miss you, Daddy.

 

Jennifer Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, is a writer living on an airplane. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Salon, among others. Jen’s leading one of her signature retreats to Ojai, Calif over Labor Day in Ojai, Calif and she and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up:  SeattleLondon, Atlanta, South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Tucson. She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff. Join a retreat by emailing barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com.

 

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No Comments

  • Reply Jennifer July 15, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    This made me cry. Your body may remember, but you seem to have made a beautiful peace with it. What a lovely picture, too.

  • Reply barbarapotter July 15, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Wow just one big wow. Twenty nine years today. Beautifully written Jen. Your dad would be proud of you and Rachel

  • Reply Willow July 15, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    So sweet the words. I feel the pain like my own. My father passed away last October 18th and I’m still grieving. It’s been difficult getting through the first year memories, birthday, holidays, etc. That date is etched in my mind like an inscription in stone. I was lucky that my father passed away in my arms–my gift to him. Yoga has helped me tremendously. It saves me every time I share it or receive.
    Enjoy your posts; many times they inspire me to write, but more importantly they give me a port of call to settle my mind in and to inquire.
    Will hold thoughts of you in silent compassion today. Precious picture. Thank you for sharing your heart. xoxo

  • Reply Ellena July 15, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    Love you so much Jenn…

    This spoke to my heart today. Yesterday would have been the 40th Birthday of someone I once called my hubby….

    He passed away 5 years ago.

    With each year that passes- my brain tracks it a little less. However, I too realized that the body does remember– even when the conscious mind does not. The energy lingers within.
    Birthdays, anniversaries, and the day he left this world – they all live within me…

    Thank you for this… For you…
    For the inspiration, the realization, and the freedom that my tears can bring me—

    Xo
    Ellena

  • Reply Ellena July 15, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Love you so much Jenn…

    This spoke to my heart today. Yesterday would have been the 40th Birthday of someone I once called my hubby….

    He passed away 5 years ago.

    With each year that passes- my brain tracks it a little less. However, I too realized that the body does remember– even when the conscious mind does not. The energy lingers within.
    Birthdays, anniversaries, and the day he left this world – they all live within me…

    Thank you for this… For you…
    For the inspiration, the realization, and the freedom that my tears can bring me—

    Xo
    Ellena

  • Reply Penny mcivor July 15, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    Love you Jenny Jen for stopping me before I get out of bed do my practice amd get into the day to focus and really think. Think and be thankful for both parents I have lost but feel i always have with me helping me and stopping me from falling. You are right the mind can play with us but the body is always there to support. Thinking of you xxx

  • Reply @SupermodelYOU July 16, 2012 at 12:09 am

    July 15th the day your Father united with all his glory. He is not gone. He is with YOU. He sees YOU. He is proud of YOU. He loves YOU. And he smiles down on YOU at the amazing woman YOU have become. And he delights in knowing the incredible things YOU are going to do that even YOU are unaware of. Trust. Love. Know. Believe. <3

  • Reply rachyrachp July 16, 2012 at 3:50 am

    This was written so beautifully. Daddy would be so proud of the woman you are today. He would be so proud of how you are the best sister in the world to me, just like you have always been since the day they brought me home from the hospital. Thanks for writing this. It makes sense now why my weekend felt so odd, so strange. The body remembers.

    I love you.

  • Reply cmargocs July 16, 2012 at 5:05 am

    I had to read your post, because the title is so true to me. My mother, my best friend, passed away in 1996. While I choose to consciously remember the birthday she shares with her granddaughter, my beautiful daughter….I go into a funk every third week of June. It is not until I stop, look at the calendar, and make the connection that I know my body is remembering that day, the sharpest grief and closest to hysteria that I’ve ever been. Her death was expected, a blessing even, to release her from bodily suffering, but the hole it left behind will never fully close. Bless you in your remembering…….

  • Reply Stacey Brown-Downham July 16, 2012 at 5:59 am

    Oh man. So profound, inspired and cathartic. I especially like the line about yoga, how “It unburies the sounds of things you have buried in your body.” I still remember my first workshop with you, a couple of months after my own father had passed away, after a long and powerful illness, and we did the 1-2 minute eye-lock and by some magical or magnetic force I was lucky enough to be paired with you. And it was as if you knew and as if I had permission to feel the loss truly and safely for the first time. So thank you again and again. xx 🙂

  • Reply annie July 16, 2012 at 7:56 am

    Thank you for this post. You are so right in that the body does remember. When I think about losing my relationship 4 weeks ago, my body wants to vomit. Utter sadness. It holds on to such trauma with a vengeance. I feel like I know your Dad through your words and actions. He seems pretty f’in great. xo

  • Reply Tanya Boulton July 16, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    I’m blessed enough to have Jen in my life and as a dear friend. Her inspiration and energy is contagious! Keep on shining my sweet love! we are making Sh*t happen, that’s what I love about you. xox

  • Reply christine breit June 15, 2014 at 4:38 am

    As i scroll through the Facebook pages of all of my friends, most of whom have changed their profile pics to ones of their dads, most no longer alive, it saddens me to the core that I lost my father when i was 21. But i do not post pictures of us, or write Happy Fathers Day in heaven to my dad. I feel like I’m suffering in silence. But it’s just not my style to post these things.
    But this brought me to my knees. I sometimes forget bc it’s seems like many lifetimes ago that either of my parents were on this earth….they never saw my beautiful son and daughter and that thought alone can make me get back in bed. I can’t start because sometimes I feel like I won’t be able to stop……Thank you Jen, for these comforting thoughts. They touch me more than I can express…..

  • Reply karen July 15, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    The missing is always.

    They say love never dies, and I say neither does the missing. Both of my parents died in July.

    My Mom on the 21st of that sweet summer month, her obituary appearing in the paper on July 23rd, which happened in an a twist of some kind of cosmic irony also to be my birthday. My Dad died on July 11th, 13 years later.

    My Mom in 1997 and my Dad in 2010. The pain I feel in their losses is a comfort even while their deaths are also among my greatest sorrows. My love and pain are the same, they are intertwined and reflect each other.

    They are the same.

    They share the same depth, the same pull, and the same hold on me. Mostly and nearly always I am grateful for it all.

    But I miss them. And this will always be true.

    Sweet dreams to you Jen. I ache as you, right in the gristle and the bone, and also inside my full, broken & open, ready and willing heart.

    Heart broken open. Ready. Willing.

    Yes. Indeed. Let it rip. I want to feel it all.

    Thanks for the sharing.

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