St. Petersburg Times columnist Jan Glidewell once said, “You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.”
On my nightstand sits a self-help book on improving one’s memory. Left to my own devices, I am awash in memories, so why do I need a book to help me remember your last name or where I put my keys?
The answer is this: It is all about living in the world.
Such are my thoughts as we approach La Cañada High School’s eighth annual scholarship awards ceremony for 1st Lt. Todd Bryant.
Todd, a 1998 LCHS grad, was killed in Fallujah on Oct. 31, 2003. Each June, a scholarship is awarded to a LCHS senior in Todd’s memory.
The first year, lots of people showed up to sit with the Bryants, and the audience gave a heartfelt and spontaneous standing ovation. The people in the room — students, parents and teachers — actually knew and remembered Todd.
As the years pass, less of us attend and the “audience” does not share in our grief. It’s only natural. Time passes.
This year, on the night before the awards ceremony, I jot down the following words:
On Monday, June 6, we will go to LCHS for the awards ceremony. We will watch as the eighth (Can it be that many years?) recipient receives a scholarship in your memory.
Dear Todd, the years are beginning to pass more quickly.
I love your smile. I miss your laughter.
We will never forget you.
The years pass, but those who loved Todd are awash in memories. Todd has a way of sticking around. Todd walks with us, sits with us and jokes with us. When we talk about Todd, there is always laughter. His death hasn’t changed anything.
Todd may be a memory to some, but to me, he is Todd. Does this mean that I’m clutching onto the past so tightly that my arms are “too full to embrace the present?”
They say that all the cells in our bodies die and are replaced every seven years. Does this mean that the cells in my body have never laughed at Todd’s jokes?
It’s only natural.
It’s only natural to love the world.
And the memory.
And to live fully.
Just like Todd.
ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. Email her at email@example.com.