Last night, in bed, during our trying to fall asleep ritual, Rye turned toward me, one hand under his chin and said, "Mommy, do you like balloons and cake and presents and birthday parties?"
Yes, Rye, I like all of those things.
"Do you remember my birthday party?"
Yes, I do, Rye. It was very fun, wasn't it?
"Yeah. Can we talk about it?"
So we did, remembering the presents everyone gave him and then talking about them again and again until I finally had to remind him it was time to go to sleep.
I loved the fact he had started the conversation, though, and that he was remembering something important to him -- to us -- so long after the fact.
The night before last, I went to help my mom and sister bury my kitty. The three of us dug a hole in my mom's backyard, brushing away mosquitoes and tears. We all said goodbye and took turns remembering what sort of a cat she was. We buried her with her favorite canned cat food, some kitty treats and a picture of her and my sister taken about eight years ago. So she can remember.
In the end, memories are often all we have left of the past. And even though it's likely they warp and twist with age and we forget some things and rearrange others, they are valuable, if intangible.
In my mind, I'll remember Nike as the spunky, fluffy kitten we chose at the humane society and the grown-up cat who slept with me at night and always seemed to be just where I needed her.
In Rye's mind, he'll remember the fun of his 3rd birthday party and I hope lots more of these childhood days.