Alaala (Memories)

When it comes to exceptional memory skills, no one beats my sister Jane. She is my greatest memory keeper. Ask her about what had happened to me or anyone in my family at any given time, and she can give you a perfectly detailed story.

Sometimes, we would talk about a common experience and she would say, yeah you did this and that, and I am like – what? How can she fit all this information in her head? I am totally blown away by her amazing skill.

People say that memories shape who we are. They make up our internal biographies—the stories we tell ourselves about what we’ve done with our lives. They tell us who we’re connected to, who we’ve touched during our lives, and who has touched us. In short, our memories are crucial to the essence of who we are as human beings.

If that is the case – then what does is say about me?

Perhaps there are some individuals whose memories act like tape recordings, daily records of their lives complete in every detail, but I am not one of them.

These past few years I find that I have been having difficulty remembering things – where I left my keys, what I was supposed to do while out and about, or the name of an acquaintance. During conversations, I tend to get lost because I can’t recall previous conversations or shared experiences.

My memories, even the most precious ones, seem to fade surprisingly quickly. The parts I remember, I remember precisely, whilst other sections seemed to have vanished completely.

It feels like the world changes too fast. You take your eyes off something that’s always been there, and the next minute it’s just a memory.

So, if I didn’t remember something happening, was it because it never had happened? Or because I simply refused to remember it?

I could understand wanting to forget the heartbreak, the pain, the betrayal, the despair, the failures, the loss, the things I did that were shameful.

But how could I forget the taste of love, joy, hope and triumphs, the things I did that were right?

What about the insane giggles, the laughter, the many kisses too many to count or remember?

If I forget a part of me, does that mean I have forgotten all of me?

If snow melts down to water, does it still remember being snow?

If you could trade all your tomorrows for one single yesterday to create a single pleasant memory, would you do it?

If you had to pack your whole life into a suitcase–not just the practical things, like clothing, but the memories of the people you had lost and the girl you had once been–what would you take?

The last photograph you had of your mother? A hug from your father? A gift from your friend? A kiss from your lover?

Would you take them to make wherever you were going feel like home, or because you needed to remember where you had come from?

When I came to Canada, my survival was up to me. I had nothing and I had no one. The only things that I had was my heart, my courage, my memory, my faith, my spirit. These were important and powerful things that kept me grounded.

The reason why I am not able to recall everything and anything in detail is that I know that I am not strong enough to keep all the bad memories in my head.

I’d rather make room for memories that remind me of true love, courage, strength, forgiveness and joy.

Some things have been lost forever, other things will perhaps be remembered again, and still other things have been lost and found and lost again. Only those who love eternally can remember so well.

From the Canadian Prairies to the sugarcane fields of Murcia, Philippines, “Musings with Jomay” video series is drawn from a Filipina-Canadian’s journey and experiences. Share this trip through time with Jomay Amora-Dueck as she shares her personal stories about food, people, places and memories that will stir readers’ own. Watch the videos on FACEBOOK @MusingsWithJomay or visit