I recently read an article that says we don't remember events or people, but simply the last time we remembered them; in this way memory is a false guide, continually diminishing and re-arranging experience until who we are now is who we have always been. I suppose in all of us memory is a false guide, yet the feelings those memories are based on must surely be the true core, the perhaps unalterable constant in the center.
I'm not sure my grandmother's death has hit me yet, and I'm not sure it ever will. It's the most surreal thing I think I've ever lived through. All I know is this weekend my mother is without a parent for the first time in her life, and I can't imagine that feeling; I know I never want to experience it myself.
|Grandma on far right, my mom third from right|
My grandmother was truly kind and forgiving. She made family her life as one would expect from a grandmother. She was involved. She was full of living the present. She made big mistakes and took risks. She lost children to death and estrangement. She made it all work out through a faith and hope I need to reconnect with before I can live a more authentic and purpose-driven life. There is an absence in my life that's growing bigger, but it has less to do with people than it does with actionable hope and letting go of who I used I to be.
We erase life as we live it, author Tim O'Brien says; we lose moments as we experience and move past them. All of the images in my grandmother's photo albums from the last 70 & 80 years hold black and white shadows of people mostly forgotten and nameless, but there in that moment they are so full of presence that they are just like me -- they are me, each of us a wave rolling on to the shore, rising, loud, heavy with gravitas until we fade into the coastline and become the wave behind us.