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  • Writer's pictureCaren Siegler

Penciled In

Updated: Jul 6, 2019


noun [ C ]

Cambridge Dictionary defines an eraser as:

a small piece of rubber used to remove the marks made by a pencil

Do you ever feel like your life is just one pencil mark after another? Everything is just penciled in, ready to be erased without a moment’s notice like it never existed. A little friction on the page, wipe away the charcoal fragments and poof! It’s gone.

What does that mean, to be ”penciled in”? That at any moment, you can be erased without even a sign that you were ever there? You could have known each other for years or for hours, but they could never actually commit to welcoming you into their life and finding a place for you to stay. Even for a little while. It doesn't matter what a beautiful image you created on their page, how many times your name and dates were written in their diary or the depth of the amazing times you spent together. In the end you were just a line or two of charcoal, a mistake that an eraser helped correct. A memory that was too haunting to keep on a page. Yet, the impression you made on that piece of paper is unmistakable and even an eraser cannot make these indelible marks fully disappear.

"In the end you were just a line or two of charcoal, a mistake that an eraser helped correct. A memory that was too haunting to keep on a page."

How many people have come into your life and you remember every single second with them, or remember nothing at all? Through my years of dating, I have bumped into a handful of past dates that I had no recollection of, even though they knew exactly who I was. “We went on a date, don’t you remember me?” I didn’t. They were written in pencil. My brain has so many things to remember, why fill it with pencil moments?

But then there are others that I remember perfectly - every detail, every word, every feeling, every desire and every wish that ever went through my mind and my body even after they were gone. They are the inked moments, the permanents in my life, the lines no one can ever erase. The diary, the images, the indelible creations.

It’s like that with events too. Some are only penciled into your life. They occur, make a mark or not, and then disappear almost like they never happened. Erased without a trace. And then there are the times that stay. Forever. And your life changes in ways you didn’t know possible.

Marriage, children, grandchildren. Events that will remain in your life for all time. Continuously feeding you with love, happiness, unimaginable joy. They have been inked into your being forevermore, creating unforgettable memories and lasting images etched into eternity.

There are also moments inked into your life and you can’t erase them no matter how hard you try. The hurt, the pain, the sadness, the diagnosis, the overwhelming feeling of WTF?? Unfortunately the ink has long dried on these, they are inerasable. And we are left different than we were before. Rose Kennedy eloquently writes, “It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it is never gone." Wounds, seen and invisible - the ink that can’t be erased. The scars left behind. The unforgettable moments that have made us who we are today. The lessons learned, the tears shed, the days and weeks and months of strength you didn’t know you had. The happiness of triumph and the despair of wondering, when will this ever get better. It does. In time we may even be able to erase some of the unbearable moments from our mind and they become nothing more than shadows of words barely remembered. A nearly pencil moment. A faded tattoo.

So often I’ve wished for pencil moments so I could erase them and do them again. Have a do-over. How many of us wish for a do-over? If we could only take back those words or not made that decision. If we stayed instead of left. If we said yes instead of no. If we had said I love you instead of walk away. Pencil moments could change the world!

I’d like to believe that I’ve created many enduring moments in my life and left some permanent impressions. That I’ve brought laughter and happiness, provided a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen. I hope I’ve loved so completely and honestly that it left no questions. I hope I have taught valuable lessons that have remained. All the lessons I’ve learned should not die inside me. They are priceless and scream to be shared.

My penned moments may only be a pencil moment for you. I’ve always thought that there are millions of people in this world who would love to be me or you even for just a minute. That they would trade their penned moments for ours in an instant. Even the bad ones, it’s all a matter of perspective anyway.

I do believe we have an obligation to make a positive difference in this world, we owe this to ourselves and to every individual we’ve come to know to pay it forward, to give back, to do good. And if any person I’ve met, any event I’ve experienced – penciled in or inked for eternity – will help someone else, it is up to me to share it. And I thank everyone who has shared theirs with me.

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