February 10, 2016
I spent the day going through the remnants of my parents’ lives. Every bill and check with their names, every list and note in their handwriting, sixty years of photos and piles and piles of clothes—that is all that is left of the two people I loved every day of my life.
I lost them both within fourteen months and I am grieving for the set of two, the unconditional love that no one on earth will ever have for me again, the smiles every time I came into their presence. That love and that joy is known to me because I have it for my own children. It is irreplaceable and eternal.
They lived their last days in the home they built sixty-two years ago, the house I came to from the hospital in the beginning of my life. I will grieve that house too—the place that has always been home no matter where life took me. When life brought upheaval and fear I could walk in that door and find solace. Now it is just empty space. No one will come home there ever again because they are gone.
As the day wore on I became enveloped in their presence. I discovered that the mother I thought was not very sentimental kept every note, card and letter I ever wrote to her. Copies of every poem and article I wrote as an adult were kept in labeled envelopes. An ancient box was hidden with the memorabilia of her wedding and honeymoon in 1953.
My dad’s bowling and golf scores pads, my mom’s inspiration for all her artwork, Dad’s meticulous checkbooks dating from 1980, cards and letters saved from friends and relatives, scrapbooks and photo albums I made for them, cards and artwork from their grandchildren, fifty years worth of manuals and warranties from everything they ever owned—it is overwhelming. It is all that a life is made up of.
All of it is precious and none of it matters at the same time. I felt their presence so strongly today that it is all I need for now. So many memories and relationships fade with time, but I do not think the people that created and loved you from the day of your birth can ever fade away. We are one in the same.
I bring home boxes of photos and tangible items that will always remind me of them, but I think about my own children having to go through all of that and more someday and I wonder if it really matters at all.
Never have I sensed the presence of love as strongly and deeply as I did today. Amidst my sorrow and tears I have had a revelation of the eternal that I have never experienced before. My mother and father were there with me today just as they have been every day of my life. That is not something I am creating to comfort myself—it is something I experienced deep in my soul.