Memory Keeper

Memory Keeper (Podcast Version)

She stood out of everyone’s way as if she were hiding, I would learn later that she was hiding, but stood patiently waiting to talk to me. I had been in Clearwater almost a year and was very plugged into church and was on the teaching rotation for our life group.

We exchanged pleasantries and then she pulled out the big guns when she started talking about my Jacksonville Jaguars. She had been paying attention, it was clear she didn’t miss much when it mattered to her, and simply put, I mattered to her. I admit, I felt the warmness in my chest that she’d paid attention to my not so quiet obsession with the worst NFL team in the history of football. But she recalled other things she’d heard me say to other people or from that teaching chair in that circle of women. One thing was clear, she paid attention, and she remembered. Her memory is annoying, mostly, but never without merit, and mostly useful.

After that day, Crissy was diligent in her pursuit of our friendship and slowly and without even knowing it, she joined the inner circle, the ones with 2AM friends, the league of five -star friends. We slowly got to know each other, but by the spring of the next year, we went on an epic trip to California where we (and by “we” I mean Crissy) drove a good portion of the Pacific Coast Highway—a bucket list item for me and still one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. We were essentially inseparable that summer, eating out way too much, staying up way too late chatting and a lot of uninvited knocks on my door for what was essentially a welfare check when I wouldn’t answer my phone.

In due time Crissy asked me if I would like to move in with her, “for three months” she said, I agreed, which shocked both of us. But before I completely moved out of my apartment, I was already hospitalized because the trauma finally demanded ALL of my attention and so for five days, the doctors tried to help me pay attention in a locked hospital ward. Crissy was at that hospital every time they would let her. While I was there, she finished moving my stuff out of my apartment and called in support from my other friends, of which she was the newest. She also was the one that first read the death threat emails. This part makes me sad because of her gift to remember, she will never be able to forget what she read in those emails. True to form, though, she stepped in and because of her we got a restraining order against the man who had vowed to love me and never hurt me.

I got out of the hospital and life got HARD, I am not even sure there is a word in the English language to express how difficult that season was. To say that season of life was difficult for Crissy too is a massive understatement. We got through it though and those “three months” turned into six years! We moved and started a business together in those six years and today, her friendship, her sisterhood is one of the most precious gifts ever entrusted to me.

It has been twelve years and Crissy and I are family now. She lives next door to me and her family is my family and not unlike every other human on this planet, our lives have been turned upside down in 2020. I found myself with a bunch of extra time on my hands but a business and career in peril–the writing words would not come. I had so much momentum coming out of 2019 too. It seemed every time I sat down at my computer all the words and clarity flew across the keyboard. I’d met an interested agent, placed second in a large writing contest and could see my name on a publishing contract.

Enter March, C19, and ridiculous uncertainty that ranged from my livelihood to navigating anticipatory grief of Crissy’s mama, who is like mine too. She is in late- stage Alzheimer’s.

Saint Patrick’s Day ended with twelve phone calls, each of them harder than the one before. I had to furlough my entire team—still one of the hardest things I have ever done. My heart hurt and all the words dried up, there was no typing, most days I never opened my laptop. But the words seem to come audibly and I knew I wanted to remember this season (2020) in my life, and the Wednesdays With Watson podcast was born.

As part of my tribe, Crissy is one of my beta listeners and after listening to one episode she came to me and sheepishly said to me “that isn’t how that happened”; at first my previously noted annoyance of her insane memory drove my negative response to her. But I also understood I needed to know what really happened in those days and so I asked the shyest person on the planet if she would come on to the podcast, and serve as my memory keeper. She agreed, and I was shocked. We sat down to record and the pain of those days was fresh. As she recounted some of the things I remembered incorrectly, I had to deal in the real, AGAIN, and I was not there for it, you can hear it in my voice on the podcast.

The Memory Keeper podcasts are hard for me to listen to, and in fact, haven’t since I sent them to my producer to edit and publish. But they remain two of the most popular episodes because people want to know how to help those they love. But something weird happened too as a result of subsequent processing of some things I didn’t remember:

More healing. I never saw it coming.

And the keyboard is getting a work out again. My old manuscript needed healing and the new one is reflecting mine.

All because someone cared enough to talk to me about a stupid football team.

Look for Crissy to be a co-host on the podcast, everyone needs her gifts; I need her memory. So, do you.

This picture, taken last summer, is a perfect snapshot of the memory keeper.

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