"Wow," I thought, "I'd rather be remembered, even if it caused some sadness."
I'm not talking just about dying, either. I'm talking about living a life where you constantly have to say goodbye, and wondering if those people forget you, if it's out of sight, out of mind. Fearing that it is. Feeling that being forgotten means you don't exist.
I thought the person who wrote that line must be very selfless, and I wondered if I could ever be that selfless, to wish to be completely forgotten, to wish happiness for the people who used to love me instead of a tiny memory of me that could make them sad.
Until I looked up the poem. Then I found that I'd been remembering it wrong, and that Christina Rossetti felt just as I did about being remembered. The title of the poem is "Remember." And that line I was quoting referred to a situation "if you should forget me for a while and afterwards remember."
Here's the whole poem:
by Christina Rossetti
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smileThan that you should remember and be sad.
Whether I'm alive or dead, being forgotten seems like a terrible fate to me. I want to be remembered. It's OK to forget for a while; I don't want anybody to be miserable, I'm not asking for perpetual mourning. But neither do I want to cease to exist on earth in the eternal way that will happen when nobody remembers me any more. I know it will happen someday, but meanwhile, I want to be remembered. It makes me feel better to know that Christina Rossetti wanted the same thing.
Michelle has the roundup this week.