The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “eternal” using descriptions of time, such as everlasting, existing, always, forever, duration or perpetual. As living things, we are sentimental beings able to treasure and relish precious and important events, people and things as memories. Since our existence is dictated by Time, we keep treasure troves of that which we hold dearest as mental records. The records that weigh the heaviest, mean the most or ring the loudest become our “memories of eternity”.
The well-accepted reference of encyclopaedia Britannica explains “memory” as “the encoding, storage, and retrieval in the human mind of past experiences.” If we were to peer into our minds as we do a photo album of our lives, we would see a commonality that joins humanity. For to most of us, we draw our memories of eternity from people that define who we are. These people tend to be those who were with us at our very earliest of memories, such as grandparents, parents, or teachers.
Grandparents live on in our memories as if they never left us. The times we spent with them over summer holidays or at Christmas time appear as real as the person next to us. If we had a Grandfather who took us fishing on a boat at a lake and taught us how to bait the hook to catch the best trout, we can be sure we have not forgotten.
Or, if we had a dedicated teacher who took the time to show us just how to throw a football. That teacher’s name is permanently engraved in our memories of eternity. We will not forget their faces or the colour of their eyes, if that were the feature that became the characteristic we used to define their specialness.
We also draw our memories of eternity from events that alter who we are at present. Many of us can recall our first day at school or the first time we accomplished a project independently. Those of us who were allowed to go to summer camps will remember the mixed emotions of euphoria and trepidation as we enter a “world” outside of our parents’ safety net.
As we progress through time, we would have experienced our high school graduation prom. Only now, we can smile at the courage it took to present ourselves fashionably, or how our friends looked in “nice” formal clothes instead of our usual “cool” everyday attire. Then, just like in fairy tales when the clock struck midnight (although ours was hours afterwards), our lives returned to what it was before–as if the dance took place in another reality. Yet, we’ve all crossed a threshold of a common experience and share in the dawning of a new phase in our lives.
We will remember our first kiss, our wedding day, our first job, our first child. Some are lucky enough to even have second chances that fit perfectly as one of our memories of eternity. A second marriage, if truth be told, can sometimes be more loving by leaps and bounds. What else would persuade us to go to the altar once more, if not for love?!
Finally, there are things that stand tall, grand and mighty enough to be cherished as one of our memories of eternity. We have often heard of the first paycheque that was framed and proudly displayed. Then, there is the graduation diploma we never thought we would ever get. And, of course, the wedding rings that mean more than the biggest, brightest diamonds that eventually came to define the human capacity at love and commitment, “in sickness and in health, for better or for worse”.
Whatever our memories of eternity are, one thing is constant. They are keepers.