I founded The Memory Collective to prevent what happened to me from happening to you.
What happened to me? The same thing that eventually happens to all of us–it just happened to me earlier than expected. When I was 12, my brother Brian died. Less than a year later, my dad died. The same year, my childhood hero Aunt Pat was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. Grandma Florence died when I was 17, Grandpa John and Grandma Josephine when I was 25 and 26.
Now, I can’t prevent your loved ones from dying. But I can prevent something else that people often don’t think of until it’s too late.
I was exposed to loss and grief and, though I didn’t realize it until much later, a different kind of loss. The memories I just assumed I’d carry with me the rest of my life of my brother and dad and aunt and grandparents–you know, because they were important to me–when I searched my mind for them years later, I was shocked to find that they were either gone, diluted, or homogenized. Guys, I’m in my 30s. This is not “old age” induced memory loss. This is just the natural process of aging. And it’s happening to all of us all the time, whether the people we love that we share those memories with are still here or not.
I thought about the memories I could have today–and, even more powerful, the voices I could still hear today–if my company had existed for my dad to record stories for me for after he was gone. I thought about what memories I’d have now if I’d recorded my memories when I was a kid, while they were fresh, and what memories my parents or grandparents might have passed down if they’d done the same. When I started talking to people about this issue, it became very clear that this was a widespread, almost universal tragedy in families.
I know what it feels like to lose people before you think you will, and to have memories of them become diluted, homogenized, or lost entirely. I understand why memories are such a precious commodity. Losing people is hard enough without also losing your memories of them. I want to help others avoid the senseless loss of those treasured memories. I believe my services are powerful and therapeutic, and that they can change lives. I saw the possibilities of how this service could help so many people in so many ways. And I realized I was uniquely qualified to help people do this with my experiences, interests, and skills I’d been honing my whole life. This was the career I never knew I wanted until it was upon me. And once it was, I knew there was no going back.