Thursday, July 10, 2014

To Have and To Hold ~ Precious Memories

I have a stockpile of sympathy cards in my dresser drawer these days. I used to have one or two sitting around. Now? I have a small little selection to choose from when the need arises.

The need has arisen far, far too many times in a very short period of time.

People in my close circle of friends and family are facing devastating losses. There is a continual reminder that our days on earth are precious and can be snatched away at any time. Sometimes there is a warning, sometimes there is not.

There is no easy way to lose a loved one. Whether the loss is though death, divorce, separation or irreconcilable differences. Living a life without someone that you are accustomed to have walking at your side is hard to fathom until it becomes your reality.

I feel like such a fraud as I walk with friends and family who are mourning their loss. Life has insulated me from heartache on so very many levels.

We lost dad so very gradually. We lost his essence long before he died due to the severe brain damage after his near fatal heart attack. I know there was a time that my grief was new and raw. But it was so very, very long ago.

Over the course of the past five years or more, I have been drawn to blogs dealing with the aftermath of loss. I couldn't figure out why I needed to read what these people had to say ... until recently. These blogs have given me a perspective that I didn't have. They have helped me understand (as much as one can understand each person's unique way of grieving) so that I feel like I can (if nothing else) at least not say the wrong things.

Assembling and writing my dad's family's story has been nothing short of cathartic for me. I have waded through my dad's memories and immersed myself completely. If I didn't feel 'healed' before, I feel reborn after this experience.

I know that everyone's time frame, in living through their grief, is different. The time when they are ready to immerse themselves fully in the essence of a loved one. I can only know what has worked for me and the magic of putting stories and pictures together has been beyond healing.

Now that I am coming out the other side of this Book of Family Memories project, I know where I want to go next. I want to write love stories. One story at a time. I want to help others articulate their story on paper so they can read it, touch it, share it and feel it whenever the need arises. It could be a private memoir for them to have and hold. It could be given to a child, grandchild or someone that they have adopted into their heart like a family member. Or it could simply be 'put out there' for the world to see.

When we put our heart on the line, we take a great risk. Sometimes it gets broken. Other times that love divides and grows and becomes more than one could have ever imagined. Often, both of those things are happening simultaneously as the ebbs and flows and tides of life are ever changing.

When your heart is aching because you miss someone, it is a comfort to be surrounded in the memories of the long and winding road that it took to know someone so well that you feel like you are missing a limb when they are gone.

I can only speak for myself, but assembling my dad's story has been one of life's greatest gifts. I am fortunate to have collected Mom's stories, memories and history from her personally. I had no idea how or where to begin with Dad's story because he wasn't here to tell it to me himself. Both family memoirs have been a gift unto themselves.

I love collecting memories and putting them together in the format of words, stories and pictures to have and to hold. Forever.

Forever is an elusive word. We don't have forever. But I am doing my best to capture what I can, while I have it in a fashion that will outlast my physical body. My children will never miss me because I will have left too much of myself behind!

Is this heaven ... or am I simply living the life I was intended to live, right here on earth??

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