What we remember

The 911 call came, we responded. We reached the patient and got them stable. The helicopter landed and then took the patient away.

Simple stories with a nice clean arc. Memory clears the ugliness and trims the thorns of trauma. What it felt like to fall, the pain of the bone break, the struggle to stay alive — somehow we only remember the outlines.

The Greeks and Trojans fought to the death, in vicious nasty battles, and we remember those wars in smooth white marble.

I look back at the plague years in New York, the bad years, lived experience of too many ambulances in the night, the loss too many people I never knew. The films and memorials portray it as so simple and grand, in idealized pure lines. The pain barely shows through.

Copy of pedimental figures from the Temple of Aphaia on Aegina, Greece, 500 BCE
New York City AIDS Memorial, 2013
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