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Last night, I went out to see my best friend who was in town for Thanksgiving and staying at her parent’s house.  Before I went to her house, I swung by my parent’s old house, partially out of intent and partially due to muscle memory.  It felt wrong to be so close and not drive up and down their street once.

The other family had several lights on in the house — one in their old bedroom and another in the playroom.  I could see the familiar wood walls of the playroom through the uncurtained window.  They had placed a rocking chair where my old play stove had been.  There was a bookcase along the wall.  It was dark out and I didn’t want to look like a stalker, so I idled for a few seconds and then continued on to her house.

I didn’t mind that they moved their things in, but I’m glad they didn’t make any major changes yet.  Didn’t cover up the wood walls of the playroom or paint the front door another colour.  For some reason, changing those things — those things that define the physical space such as the door colour or the wall material — would be like erasing us from that house.  As if it had never been ours, never looked this way.  As if so much of our lives hadn’t gone on within those walls.

We were sitting in the living room; my friend and her husband and her brother and some old family friends that I have known since childhood.  I admitted that I drove by my parent’s old house, and my brother-by-friendship (what do you call the siblings of a sister-by-choice?) — knowing me well — immediately crowed, “and Melissa cried, right?”  But I didn’t.  I thought I would, and perhaps I would have if it was day time and I could see something more than the shadow of the house.  But I didn’t cry.  It just felt like hearing a sigh.


I saw the 7th Harry Potter movie this past weekend with my father, my sister, and our husbands.  What I’m saying won’t ruin the movie unless you haven’t read the book, but skip over this section if you are a purist and literally don’t want to read anything before you see it.

There is a scene early on in the film, one you read about in the book in a sentence or two.  Hermione erases herself out of her parent’s mind.  She erases herself out of pictures and walks out of the house, and I’ll admit — my brother-by-friendship be damned — I cried hard.  Because I think the only thing worse than losing the person would be forgetting them, as if they never existed.

Of course, if you forgot, you wouldn’t know that you were missing anything, which is why it must be so much more painful for those with good memories to view someone who is losing their memory.  Of course, as memory loss occurs, there has to be fear and confusion.  In not being able to find the familiar around you.  But it is terrifying for those viewing it happening in another person, seeing themselves erased.

The twins asked about the movie when we got back, and they kept saying, “was it so scary?”  And I would say, “it was so scary!  I made myself sick being so scared.”  And they would ask again, “was it so scary?” relishing the idea of their parents encountering something terrifying and living to tell the tale, and I finally said the 12th time it was asked, “it was so scary, and there was a sad part too.”

I told the twins about Hermione erasing herself out of her parent’s minds, my throat catching.  And I made them promise me that if they ever learned how to do that sort of magic, they would never do that to us.  Because I couldn’t stand the idea of it; of what my life would be like without knowing them.


Erasure is a form of found poetry that is built out of erasing words.  The silence — the missing words — is where all the meaning rests.  It’s sort of a bizarre idea — building out of erasing — since so much of writing is about bringing together words.  About placing more words together in order to best explain the idea.  Erasure is explaining by taking words away.

No one ever thinks about what happens to those missing words; the ones that are removed.  They provide all the meaning, and yet, they don’t even get remembered.


If given the choice, would you rather ache with the loss; missing someone who was or would you rather live like Hermione’s parents, completely ignorant that they just loved someone for eighteen years who is no longer there?


1 Sharon { 11.29.10 at 12:29 pm }

Although it calls for falling back on an old cliche, I do think it is better to have “loved and lost” than to never have loved at all. So I would rather feel the loss than lose all my memories of someone I had loved deeply.

2 Tara { 11.29.10 at 12:37 pm }

Oh Mel, that is a tough one…part of me, my 1st instinct is to say, “I’d rather not know the pain” When I think of the loss of my father, it still hurts so much that the Hermione Option seems enticing…however, I am a stonger, better person for enduring that loss & grief. I have learned some very valuable life lessons I wouldn’t otherwise have learned if I hadn’t experienced the ache of loss…

3 Lollipopgoldstein { 11.29.10 at 12:44 pm }

I know what you mean. I think Hermione thought she was doing the humane thing; saving her parents the heartache of searching for her, wondering how she is. Mourning her if she died. But was she robbing them of that mourning? Of remembering her and loving her even if she was gone?

4 Justine { 11.29.10 at 12:51 pm }

I love this post … saw the movie this weekend, too, and that part made my heart ache. I think we are better people for knowing those who have touched our lives, even if our time with them was short (as many of the Baby Loss Mamas might agree). Grief is such a strange thing … no one ever *wants* to experience that kind of loss … and yet, I think given the choice between that and the absence of feeling, most of us would choose grief. Denying us that, I think, is denying us the powerful connections to each other that make us most beautifully and poignantly human.

5 Katie { 11.29.10 at 12:59 pm }

This makes me think of loss in this community: while some mourn the passing of their baby(ies), others (like me) have essentially nothing to mourn. I wouldn’t want to choose between the two. They are both painful experiences in their own ways.

6 Tigger { 11.29.10 at 1:15 pm }

I think I would prefer to mourn what I had lost. All I could think about was “how terrible for her to be able to remember them, and them not even know she existed”. What if she ran into them on the street?

On the other hand, how desperate must she have been to cast that spell on them, knowing what was going to happen? It wasn’t a thing done lightly, so you know the circumstances were extreme and she deemed the pain to herself to be a worthy price to pay.

7 serenity { 11.29.10 at 1:35 pm }

In my good days since my aunt passed, I love having memories of her and the knowledge that I loved and was loved in return.

On the bad days, I wish it could be erased.

I personally think that her mother and father would always miss SOMETHING – even if it was something they didn’t know they even had. Having a child now? Nothing would never be able to erase his imprint on my heart and soul. Not all the magic in the world can do that – I’m forever different because of him.


8 HereWeGoAJen { 11.29.10 at 2:04 pm }

I remember that part in the book and I thought it was so powerful too. I mainly looked at it from Hermione’s perspective though, at what a huge thing she was doing to herself (making her parents forget her) so that they could be as safe as possible. And I know that she went and found them and removed the spell.

9 Kristen { 11.29.10 at 2:16 pm }

Such a tough question…i honestly don’t know which I would choose. I can’t imagine giving up knowing my children and erasing them from my memory, yet I also can’t imagine how I would even continue to breathe if I were to lose one of them.

10 Lori Lavender Luz { 11.29.10 at 2:21 pm }

To be human is to have the capability to feel the whole range of human emotion. So I really like what you said in your comment response: “But was she robbing them of that mourning? Of remembering her and loving her even if she was gone?” And I would answer yes.

I can only imagine how hard it was to be on the outside of your childhood home. I am certain you left a permanent imprint in that actual space the way you have permanently imprinted so many people through this virtual space. You are all that.

11 Annie { 11.29.10 at 2:48 pm }

Interesting. I’m working on a similar post regarding pills that are being developed which supposedly erase traumatic memories. Would I want that? Some days I would say no, but today I think I would say YES please! My latest and probably last IVF cycle has failed, and I don’t know how to live with multiple losses, followed by infertility, followed by multiple failed infertility treatments. Whoever said God doesn’t give us more than we can handle is proven wrong today. I would choose to forget my children who are lost if it would mean I could finally be the happy mother my living children deserve but haven’t had for years.

12 manymanymoons { 11.29.10 at 2:51 pm }

Ok, so I got a little choked up reading this. Damn you Harry Potter! Great post.

13 a { 11.29.10 at 3:37 pm }

I would hate to forget entirely…because then you forget the joyous parts too.

14 Gail K { 11.29.10 at 3:39 pm }

I think it is important to remember those who have been lost rather than to forget them. However, in Hermione’s life, she erased her parents memory of her to save their lives. In the book, she sends them to Australia to live and, that way, if the death eaters try to hunt them down, they won’t be found and won’t know anything about Hermione even if they are found. The movie doesn’t explain all this and only shows her erasing their minds. So, if that same thing were to happen in my life, I would make that sacrifice to protect the ones that I love, no matter how much it would hurt. And, I would just hope that, if the situation improved, a counter-spell could return their memories (or mine).

15 BigP's Heather { 11.29.10 at 4:16 pm }

Wasn’t she protecting them from the Death Eaters…that way they couldn’t torture them because they didn’t know anything? I thought she gave them the idea to move to another continent or something?

The last time I saw my Grandmother, she had no idea who it was. I was her “Lil Bit”, the favorite grandchild of her favorite son…and she had no clue who I was. It hurt me in a way I can’t explain. She thought I was a nurse or an aide I guess. She had always taken such good care of herself before her mind went wandering. I put lotion on her and massaged her hands and feet. When my Father showed up she lit up like a Christmas tree so happy to see him. I had wanted that from her, one last chance to talk to her. It was only painful for me because she was already free.

16 BigP's Heather { 11.29.10 at 4:18 pm }

One more thing, I guess my fear of losing the memories would be of losing the lessons that those people/events taught me. I don’t want to lose the lessons infertility taught me. Or the events – just the pain.

Can we just erase the pain and keep the love and lessons?

17 TasIVFer { 11.29.10 at 5:11 pm }

100% definitely ache with the loss. Because the ache comes from love – and I’d rather feel that pain of love.

I feel like I face this every day. I feel like my husband has erased our dead son from his mind and life. I fight against him, trying to remind him. Yes, I’m reminding him of hurt – but I’m also reminding him of love.

18 A.M.S. { 11.29.10 at 5:13 pm }

One of my biggest fears is that no one will remember Lennox and Zoe. They were here for so short a time and aside from Shannon, the NICU nurses and doctors, and myself, only four people ever saw them in person. I have managed my grief over losing them by making sure that they are remembered, that they aren’t erased by time.

As much as I still ache from the loss of them both, my life is so much better having known them for those few days. I wouldn’t erase all memory of them, even if it would take away all the pain because it would take away part of what makes my life so rich now.

19 Michelle { 11.29.10 at 6:00 pm }

This really makes me think about loss verses not ever getting pregnant. Would I be better off if I hadn’t ever lost my 5 babies and never knew this? It’s a slippery slope. While the pain of losing my babies is real and comes and goes…some days are terrible. On those days, I would just wish it away. But, like said before, then I would wish away the lessons, strength, and perseverence I’ve built because of that journey. It’s very hard. I would never want to ‘not know’ my 6 month loss, so I guess…sometimes I think…it is better to have loved and lost, than to have never have loved before. Very interesting question indeed.

20 Barb { 11.29.10 at 10:04 pm }

I agree with Jen that it had to be done to save their lives in that instance. But I would choose NOT to have that. I am who I am because of the people I love and have loved.

21 It is what it is { 11.29.10 at 10:55 pm }

I am not a Harry Potter follower (I know, perish the thought (and I don’t follow vampire stories either, so there!)) but it has always seemed to me that one’s life is made up of the inherent contradiction of emotions. You can’t really know or appreciate one without knowing its opposite. I happen to also believe that this is what makes one’s life tapestry vibrant. I would choose to know than not know every time. There is much to be learned through grief and mourning, painful as that may be.

22 Bea { 11.30.10 at 2:45 am }

Ooh, it’s tough. I’d forgotten that bit of the book. I think maybe I’d have to go with “better to have loved and lost”. Eternal Sunshine did a worthwhile job of exploring this question.

(Although I am also reminded of the Simpson’s episode where Homer and Lisa are listening to a jazz musician, and Homer is under-appreciating it. “Dad, you have to listen to the notes she’s NOT playing,” Lisa explains. “Uh, I can do that at home,” Homer replies. Haha. But anyway, you were trying to have a serious discussion…)


23 Vee { 11.30.10 at 4:23 am }

Oh gosh, ache with the loss, I would say. I am scared of erasing memories that is why Max’s desk is still untouched just gathering more clutter and his clothes still hang in our wardrobe after 6 months since he passed. I still can’t bring my self to touch anything. I know I need to, very soon, but I am struggling for fear of erasing any memories or perhaps its fear of bringing them memories back I am not sure. But I do know I never want to forget him. Ever.

24 Chickenpig { 11.30.10 at 8:55 am }

Wow, that is a tough one. When I was struggling with IF I didn’t pray to have a child, I prayed to lose the ache for one. I guess I would have to say I would rather remember. I can’t imagine waking up after 18 years and having that ache back and the regret. Eighteen years is better than nothing, a year is better than nothing, hell the 8 weeks I had before miscarrying were better than nothing.

25 Kir { 11.30.10 at 12:19 pm }

I had a friend for 5 years, but she was my heart. I truly loved her and when we “broke up” (and I’m still not sure of the reason) I honestly felt like I had lost a lover. This time of year was our time…I used to go to her parent’s house every year the day after Thanksgiving and stay all weekend and then again after xmas, it was the best times of my life…and now I can see her on FB, but she won’t be friends, I just found out that she is Married and PG with twins and she still won’t let me reach out and apologize to her, I feel like such a failure of a friend and I miss her, my heart aches with the missing, the thought that I did this , made me lose my own friend/sister….
and I often think, would it be better if I never knew her, would I be happier (maybe) but she taught me things, she made me a better person, a better woman, and I never would have dated John if it wasn’t for her…she was the one person who gave me support to do it….like the song from WICKED” For Good” ..that’s how I feel…that if I never see her again, she’s changed me “FOR GOOD” on every level.

hugs to you (I too passed by my old house this summer and it was so weird, I didn’t cry either, but felt it like a sweater on me (in the summer) for days, like I should have a reaction and trying to figure out what it should be)


26 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 12.01.10 at 2:12 am }

I just saw the movie and that part stuck with me the most, and I instantly wanted to blog about it too. Maybe I still will.

In the meantime I will say that I totally thought from the title that this post would be about the 80s band. Oh, l’amour!

27 loribeth { 12.01.10 at 8:36 am }

I can relate. Every time we are back in the one of the towns where we used to live, we will drive by our old house. My sister & I lived in an apartment in the town where we lived for six years & both graduated from high school one summer when we were in university. My parents had sold our house to the local credit union manager (Robert) when my dad’s bank transferred him, after my sister & I had both graduated. Robert only lived there a short time & then he sold it to the assistant manager. I was working at a credit union that summer, & I went to a staff party there!! I told the new owners that I had lived there, & they invited me to have a look around. This was only about a year or two after we’d left, so things were more or less the same. The one GLARING exception was my room, which had been all girly pink & white and gingham & was now a little boy’s room. It had been painted a dark olivey green on two walls & on the other two walls was RACING CAR WALLPAPER!! Yikes!!

What really bugged me, though, was hearing everyone say stuff like, “Oh, I love the way Robert finished the basement,” when it was MY PARENTS who had done all the work.

As for Hermione — haven’t read the book or seen the movie yet, but I’m of the “better to have loved & lost” school. I would never trade my brief six-month pregnancy & my memories of my daughter. Never.

(((Hugs))) to Big P’s Heather. My grandmother had dementia. She couldn’t tell you what year it was, & she thought my grandfather was out running around with another woman (because why else wasn’t he with her? — he was dead, but she had shut that completely out of her mind)(poor Grandpa, lol) — but she knew us all to the end, and I was always so thankful for that.

28 Nelly { 12.01.10 at 2:02 pm }

Man, this hit home today. And thanks for making me cry at work!

Yes, I’d want to be ignorant. I wish I could forget my son. Cause it hurts.

29 Elana Kahn { 12.03.10 at 12:17 am }

It really depends. If it was a person that I had good memories with (like a parent or a child), then I would much rather live with the memories and loss. If it was someone that had some good memories but a lot of bad ones (like an ex-boyfriend), then I would rather forget completely.

Incidentally, that was the only scene in the entire HP 7 movie that I cried during (I didn’t even cry during the second-to-last scene). I honestly could not hold it together as her image disappeared from the photos, and even just typing about it my eyes are watering.

30 Battynurse { 12.26.10 at 2:42 pm }

I remembered that part in the book and didn’t really think much of it. However in the movie that part was so powerful. It made me a bit teary too. It also makes me think of my friend who lost her husband earlier this year in a tragic accident, when she was 5 months pregnant. I know that what she has been through has been so painful the last 9 months or so but I also know that even with the pain she has so many fabulous memories with her husband and every time she looks at their beautiful baby girl she see’s him.

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