This week, I remembered Tim Horton’s breakfast sandwiches and it made my heart break and swell with happiness all at the same time.
Let me explain.
When my sister, Roxanne, died in 2013 I worried about something that almost every grieving person I have known also worries about: if I would forget things. Would I forget her voice? Would I forget her laugh? Would I forget the random little memories that so easily slip away? Sometimes, when a memory would come to me, I would rush to write it down, anxious that it would disappear forever from my consciousness if I didn’t record it. Memories had become so precious – how could I risk the chance of losing even just one of them?
It took me a few years to realize a comforting (and sometimes painful) truth: You don’t forget. You may not remember every incident you shared with the one you loved, but no – you cannot forget them. They are too much a part of who you were and who you are. They stay with you. You remember. You remember all kinds of things – including breakfast sandwiches.
The two springs before Roxanne died, my two sisters came to visit me in Ontario for the May 24th weekend. My other sister lives in British Columbia and Roxanne lived in Newfoundland, so they had decided that meeting at my place was halfway-ish. We had two wonderful weekends. We decided they would become a lifelong tradition. We didn’t know that “lifelong” for us would only mean two years.
And still, every May 24th weekend, I think of those visits. We had so much fun. We went out to eat, we went shopping, we went to the theatre. And we ate breakfast sandwiches. Both years, Roxanne woke up on her first day declaring: “Now, this is a vacation, so give me your Tim’s order.” And she’d bring us all breakfast sandwiches and coffee, which we would eat in the backyard.
This weekend, I thought constantly about those May 24th breakfasts – which is funny, because I don’t even like breakfast sandwiches anymore. But on Saturday, I would have done anything to relive those breakfasts again. I didn’t need a fancy trip. I didn’t need a dramatic memory. I needed “Now, what do you want for breakfast?” and eating eggs squished in a limp English muffin with my dear sister.
I never would have guessed that May 24th weekend would be the time I would miss my sister the most each year. But it is. Because of memories like breakfast sandwiches, and the longing they make me feel to see her again. It is hard – and it is good. It is good because it reminds me that I won’t forget. If I can’t forget breakfast sandwiches, how can I forget how she made me feel? I remember her voice because I can hear it asking for my order. I remember her laugh because I can still hear it’s echo in my backyard. How could she ever be forgotten?
If you are grieving today, maybe you have lived in fear of forgetfulness. Let me give you a promise: you won’t forget. You’ll have so many of your own “breakfast sandwich” memories. They will show up on holidays or birthdays or Tuesdays when you’re walking through a grocery store. They may sometimes be hard – and they will be good.
Today, I wish you a “breakfast-sandwich memory,” a glimpse of what made you love your dear one the most. May it make you smile, and may it remind you: You will NOT forget. You’ll remember.