We Carry Each Other’s Stories

I will remember you.
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by.
Weep not for the memories….
                               –   Sarah MacLachlan

It is near the turning of a new year as I write this. This season is always a time of reflection for me – a time to count blessings and dream what’s next.

In honor of my recent birthday, I invited Facebook friends to share one fond memory they have from our relationship. Immediately after I put out the call, the comments section started filling up with stories from all aspects and seasons of my life.

To date over seventy people from all corners of my life have shared memories with me — and there are more coming in every day.

There are recollections from relatives, both close and shirttail. One sister-in-law reminded me that when she first met me at our old family house, there was a tuba on the front porch. (I played tuba for a very short time in middle school.) My other sister-in-law shared a reminiscence from when we first met and I was shorter than she was. (I am now a full foot taller.)

A childhood friend who lived in the neighborhood and was at my first birthday party remembered swinging on the big swing set in my backyard when we were little girls.

My college roommate remembered the time I took the train out to Washington State to be present at the birth of her daughter nearly thirty years ago.

Clients and colleagues recalled shared projects and adventures. Dear friends reminded me of hilarious predicaments and heart-stretching challenges we shared together.

What surprised and touched me most was how many of the memories people were carrying from our shared lives were invisible to me. They were carrying parts of my story that I’d completely forgotten about and returned details of my life to me that I’d left behind. What a precious gift.

The implications of this experience continue to surprise and delight me. Chief among them is the fact that the self I know as Barbara McAfee is not simply contained in my own memory and stories; it is widely dispersed through legions of people in my life.

And that’s true of every one of us. Our lives are deeply entangled with other lives in ways we will never fully comprehend. We will never know the full impact of our lives on the people we encounter along the way. Even after we die, something of our life remains in the stories of those who knew us.

I’m still unraveling what I want to do about this new awareness. One thing I have decided is to be more deliberate about sharing fond memories with the people I love. I want them to know those moments of their lives that I cherish and they might have forgotten or overlooked.

I want to tell them clearly: I will remember you.

About Barbara McAfee

Barbara is a voice coach, singer/songwriter, keynote speaker, and author who merges lessons from 12 years in organization development with the transformational power of sound. Her book, Full Voice: The Art & Practice of Vocal Presence (Berrett-Koehler Publishers) was a #1 Amazon bestseller in Business Communication. The book is based on her 25 years as a voice coach, supporting people from many professions in learning how to access the full power and expression of the voice in service to their work and relationships. Barbara’s musical keynotes blend practical content, sophisticated humor, and thought-provoking questions on topics including voice, leadership, and engagement. She was “the band” for Margaret Wheatley’s Women’s Leadership Revival Tour, which visited 15 North American cities. She also appears with authors Parker Palmer and Peter Block. Barbara has produced seven CD's of mostly original music and is founder of the Morning Star Singers, a volunteer hospice choir in the Twin Cities. She lives across the street from the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
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3 Responses to We Carry Each Other’s Stories

  1. Ooh, I’ll have to look it up on FB! (Been avoiding FB for a while now.)

  2. Deborah Clemmensen says:

    What an open-hearted and perceptive blog post, Barbara! I wish you a new year filled with meaning and connection.

    Warmly, Deb

    Deborah Clemmensen, M.Eq. Licensed Psychologist Neutral Child Specialist in Collaborative Practice and Family Law

    Sent from my iPad


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