Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Objects of Memory

I saw this show on PBS about Objects with Memories.

At first I thought it was about psychic ability, to retrieve memories or emotions from objects by touching them.

I was surprised to find out it was about objects saved from tragic events. Mostly about 9/11.

People had left personal items at "ground zero" and all over the city. In memory of people who had died.

Objects were also found from the two towers, personal items, that were given to family members of the people who died. The items were simple to most but to the families they were profound. Some people told the stories behind the items, like this one woman who said her sister loved her summer bag and inside it were her rosary beads. Another woman said her husband carried a $2.00 bill in his wallet and she did as well, 2 hearts connecting, second marriage etc.... His bill was totally intact.

It got me thinking about items that i've saved when people have gone from my life.

When I was younger I used to save the oddest things. I saved matchbooks and drink coasters from dates I had with a current crush of the week. I saved concert ticket stubs, buttons, stickers. So much stuff.

Then when my boyfriend died I wanted as much of his things as I could get a hold of. In search of something to bring him closer to me, closer to my heart. He used to roll his own cigarettes
and after he died I found one in my ashtray and saved it. I was able to get a few of his personal items that his birth mom had in storage. The one thing I treasure most is a sweater that he had worn on his last trip here to the states, when I had met him. After his celebration of life gathering I had found it on the bed he was sleeping on. I held it to me and could smell him on the sweater. I didn't want to take it off. Luckily I was able to keep it. I made copies of pictures of him when I hadn't even met him. Someone elses' memories. I wanted to somehow piece together his past, understand him more, get to know him without him.

That was nearly 9 years ago.

Nowadays I just have one picture out of him and its not the first thing I see when I wake up.

I've moved on in some ways, but in others i'll never move on. He is a part of my history, a part of my heart.

The objects don't matter anymore, just the memories.

I do believe that objects are a part of the healing that needs to happen for anyone grieving. It can bring you back to the moments you need to remember, to hold close to your heart.

1 comment:

Jon said...


I'm glad the Objects and Memory film was meaningful to you. One does this kind of work in the hope that the stories and insights will help people navigate through this chaotic and fragile world. About the same time we started the film (seven years ago), my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. After surgery, chemo, and radiation, she's fine now, but the experience reinforced our appreciation of what truly matters.

- Jon Fein
Producer/Director, The Objects and Memory Project (www.objectsandmemory.org)