Memories are strange things. They can arrive when you least expect them.
They can bring amazing joy or they can startle you.
They can cause you to quietly reflect. You can be caught smiling for apparently no reason to others around you.
You can feel melancholy.
You can cry when you least expect it.
A recent drive in the country was just what I needed. The constant pain of a long standing rare tongue ulcer/benign tumour, needed definite distraction therapy.
With my husband as chauffeur, we drove to a place we often loved to visit on weekends years ago when I was still working. It is on top of a mountain range in an area called the “Scenic Rim”
The scenery is amazing. Countryside leads into dense rainforest which opens up to beautiful escarpment views at the top of the mountain.
We drove past many of our favourite places from the past. A signpost leading to our special BnB conjured up the happiest of memories.
Memories only we shared, memories we laughed at. Previous, joyful memories.
Further down the road, other memories came flooding back and with them came a reaction I was not expecting.
An Unexpected Reaction
Not long before I had to medically retire, I was awarded Leader of the Year by the Bank I worked for. It was such an honour for many reasons.
Firstly it was the inaugural award. Secondly, I had been off sick for months prior to the award ceremony, as my body was starting to breakdown. Mostly when I was working, I’d been doing so from home, leading my large team remotely.
Unbelievable to have such an award bestowed upon me under those circumstances.
It was 2010 and I hadn’t yet medically retired. I managed to “sort of” stabilise my health with the help of my medical team and medication (Methotrexate and Prednisone in particular).
Not long after the award ceremony I was back in the thick of working life again, facilitating a three day conference for my Leadership team.
It was an “away” conference and we were staying in a rural retreat for a few days. Team building/bonding was in full force, as well as time to just relax together.
It was probably the best conference I’d facilitated. I had themed the entire event…” To The Beat of The Drum”. The emphasis was on all working together, all to the beat of the same drum.
One of our activities was a session to play African style drums/bongos. The company I brought in to facilitate this were amazing. So much fun. So much laughter filled the room.
I had also just been a Guest Speaker at a conference on the Gold Coast a week prior to leading my own team conference.
My speech has been published by our Banks communication team the day before my conference. I remember checking my phone at the first morning tea and I had so many messages from colleagues congratulating me on my speech and letting me know how much it moved them. Their response meant the world to me and I was so humbled at the effect my Leadership story was having on other successful Leaders. Especially as I didn’t hold back about the impacts chronic illness was having on my life.
I have shared My Leadership Musings Speech on my blog previously if you’d like more insight into my life before medically retiring and my Leadership style.
A year later I would be leaving my dream job and my beautiful team forever.
I had no idea at the conference my future as an Executive Manager was so close to ending.
In retrospect, I’m really glad the life changing road ahead wasn’t apparent at the time. I feel blessed to have been given another year of working full time, before needing to say goodbye to such a wonderful chapter of my life.
Nine Years On
So as we drove the long and winding road on our mountain outing, we suddenly came across a sign. A sign I had somehow removed from my memory.
A sign that caused me to sit up and take notice.
“Oh my goodness”, I exclaimed to my husband. “Look, this is where I had my last conference. Oh wow, look….this is where we stayed. I remember it like yesterday. I forgot it was here!”
I had completely forgotten it was there. It hadn’t even crossed my mind as we were planning this drive days before.
How could I have forgotten? I loved this place. I loved the conference and all it represented. I loved the memories of my team.
Suddenly, without warning, I was crying.
There it was. Such an unexpected reaction. A reaction of deep loss. A reaction of deep love. A reaction of deep gratitude for the life experiences I’ve been blessed to enjoy.
The tears were not just tears of sorrow. Yes sorrow and grief was intertwined, but so were happy tears as the memories came flooding back.
I felt like I’d come home. Such a strange feeling. Maybe it’s why our new home feels so connected to me. It’s only 20 mins from this special place. So close to so many special memories.
Personal memories, work memories, life before chronic illness memories. This place brought them all home.
As I dried my eyes, we continued down memory lane.
We were creating new memories on this day, not just revisiting old ones.
A new memory was created when we shared this special emotional moment together looking back. Grieving what was lost and being thankful for a past life. It was a healing moment.
We created new memories finding a perfect little cafe for lunch that catered for people with disabilities. The owners were so caring and considerate of my needs.
We found another disabled carpark after lunch which allowed us to look in two really pretty shops. One was named after our 18 month old grandson, making it extra special. The owner of this shop couldn’t do enough for us as I tried to navigate the gift store with my walker. A recipe for disaster but I managed to pull it off.
We purchased a few lovely items and as we were paying, the man helping us disappeared. I had bought some exquisite paper serviettes and he had gone out the back to get an extra packet. No charge….just a little gift from the owner.
A new precious memory to take home. One I’m still smiling about.
Sweet Sorrow And New Perspective
Memories may catch us by surprise. They may cause a variety of emotions but they are so important.
They are our life story, for better or for worse.
They have formed who we are today and on some days, on some occasions, taking time to remember can be so healing.
We thought we were just going for a drive in the country. It was so much more than that.
It brought with it another level of acceptance. It released memories which needed to be remembered and it allowed me to be grateful to be able to create new memories.
Chronic Illness is just another chapter of my life. It’s not my whole life.
My work memories reminded me it’s why I founded Medical Musings With Friends . It’s why I started my blog.
I am still a Leader. I always will be and I will always want to care, coach and nuture others. Chronic Illness hasn’t taken my passion, my calling away. It has just re-directed it.
Life has an amazing way of evolving, reinventing itself, no matter our circumstances, especially if we don’t lose sight of who we are.
Memories help us get back in touch with what’s important.
A drive down memory lane is one I’m going to make sure I do a bit more often than I have been.
I’m pretty sure other memories will show me, life ahead can still hold opportunities for new and exciting memorable experiences.
Precious memories, unseen angels
Sent from somewhere to my soul
How they linger, ever near me
And the sacred past unfoldsPrecious memories how they linger
How they ever flood my soul
In the stillness, of the midnight
Precious sacred scenes unfoldPrecious memories fill my soul
Source: LyricFindSongwriters: Alan JacksonPrecious Memories lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
If you’re looking for genuine support, care, understanding & friendship, you are so welcome to join my closed Facebook support forum, Medical Musings with Friends . It’s a safe place to connect with others living with chronic & complex diseases, who truly understand the daily challenges. A warm welcome awaits.
I’m also a Contributor at “The Mighty”. You can check out my published articles at My Author Page
I also write @ Blogs by Christian Women