before & after

I lie in bed, struggling to fall asleep as usual... my mind making to-do lists, worrying over should-haves and shouldn't-haves, wistfully daydreaming about things to look forward to. I suddenly remember my sweater-knit throw blanket, and I can't help but feel giddy that the weather is changing and I can cozy up under it soon. It's just the right weight and color and texture, and it's everything I love about autumn, knit into a blanket. 

Where did I put it? 

My mind starts taking stock of closets and storage spaces, because I can't for the life of me remember where it might be...

And then I realize.

The blanket is just a figment of my imagination — at least in my present life anyway. All those fond, warm memories I have are actually from my previous life: snuggled on the couch in my unheated African home, grateful for the weight and warmth of my charcoal grey blanket considering there's snow on the ground outside. 

You know what that means, don't you?

I haven't seen this blanket in five years, a mere vestige of the life that vanished out from under me. And yet it accosted my memory out of nowhere, as if it were just yesterday that I last burrowed beneath it...

:: :: ::

This isn't new to me.

It happens quite often in fact. 

Countless times I've rummaged through my kitchen cabinets looking for that serving bowl or pancake griddle or muffin tin that only ever existed in my South African kitchen.

:: :: :: 

Clearly my mind plays tricks on me, betraying me with its blending of past and present...

And it happens with more than just my memories.

My homogenized life is made up of so many bits of before and after, then and now, that I often can't see the seams separating any of the parts. Scars and healing, hope and hopelessness, heartache and joy, gain and loss, new and no-more... It's all there, disjointed and fragmented, reminding me that whole looks a lot like stained glass. 

Nothing missing.

Nothing broken

The sum of all my many parts.

:: :: ::

So sometimes it means my fuzzy brain betrays me. But it also reminds me that I've lived a lifetime's worth of experiences worth jumbling together.  

I am not before then after

I am before and after