That one time I was at the market in Helsinki on my very first trip to Finland and I–who am in no way a doll person–saw her. And I looked at the price and converted the euros to dollars and walked away. And then I walked past and talked myself out of her again. And then the third time I went back and purchased her. Because I knew if I went home without her I would be a little sad.

The old ceramic cup that had, apparently, sat unnoticed on my mother’s desk full of pens and pencils and paperclips for over three decades. It’s pretty blue glaze around the rim overlaid with shiny gold. And my dad’s name and birthday scrawled across the front. Someone must have made it for him in Brazil.

My parents’ simple silver wedding bands nestled one inside the other hanging from a heart on a silver chain.

Crocheted baby blankets from Shane’s aunts. A pastel-patterned quilt made by a friend and presented to me on my 50th birthday. A couple of my own comfy quilts whose stitches hold, along with the pieced fabrics, memories of rainy days reading curled up on the sofa, cozy Sunday naps wrapped around people I hold dear.

The photo I took of James sitting in the green wild of an organic strawberry field on our last trip to Oregon. Strawberry stains on his sleeve, his lips, and the front of his shirt. Eyes cast downward, focusing on the sweet red strawberry his tiny hand is bringing to his lips.

The photo I took yesterday of James’ tiny little sister when we first met. In the NICU. Three and nearly three-quarter pounds. Six and a half weeks early. Sweet miniature bundle of precious miracle wrapped tightly in a blue polkadot blanket lying in my arms. Almost the spitting image of her big brother.

People are treasures. The people we love. The people we meet. The people who love us. Sometimes even the people who don’t so much, but whose paths we cross, and who capture our attention and give us tiny glimpses into their lives, which we may or may not remember forever. But which, at least for a time, we held because they made us feel something.

Memories are treasures. The joyful ones. The painful ones. Even those buried deep.

Because wherever they are filed away, they are a witness. To our lives. To the fact we came here. We breathed in life deeply. Sometimes it hurt. Sometimes it stank. Sometimes it was sweet or glorious or pungent or petrichor. And it was all worth it. Life and all its unexpectedness is a treasure.

[Day 187 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]