Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 8.46.15 AMI tell them it’s because stories matter. And inevitably, there comes a discussion on which stories are important. Which are the ones you keep, which are the ones you discard? There’s a tendency for them”for all of us”to believe a story has to be big and important for it to be worthwhile.
This isn’t true. At least, not in my mindset.
I saw my grandmother last week. She lives 3,000 KM away and I don’t get to see her often. Chances are the next time I see her, she will not remember me. Time and disease will have worn away the connections in her brain until I’m no more than a friendly stranger in her room. She will have forgotten about how she patiently taught me how to make chota (a Guyanese breakfast bread) or the time we laughed so hard over “That *incident* with the false teeth.” She will no longer remember how much she smile means to me or how loved I feel when her hand is in mine.
In the coming days, as her memory fades, she will forget it all, and it will fall to me to remember–
–that she gave up her schooling to help raise her brothers and sisters when my great-grandmother was mentally and physically exhausted from having birthed 15 children and watching 3 of them die in their early years.
–that the earrings my grandmother wears were a handmade gift from my grandfather during one of the rare moments when he turned to his family instead of alcohol to banish the scars of his past.
–the funny, slightly gross story about how my uncle’s greed for food combined with a blackout in the village, and he–believing he was eating everyone’s curry under the cover of darkness–ate a cockroach.
All stories matter. They are the glue, the binding agent that reminds all of us that no matter our age, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation–no matter what–we are forever connected. Stories remind us that we are bigger than the experiences of our lives. We aren’t just made of skin and bones. We are made of words and emotions, we are the global memory of everyone who has come before us and will come after us. In essence and at our core, we are a species made and knitted together by stories.

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