As I wrote yesterday, we recently returned home from a family trip to Indiana. Besides seeing great sites, laughing with family, great food, football, we remembered. We remembered a lot.
Our family has lost many members over the years, and we were a very small family from the very beginning. Now, as we age, we are getting to a point when there are fewer and fewer of us who remember those who have gone on before us. As we reminisced this weekend, we looked at family photos, and we talked about memories. Some memories were painful, some absolutely joy-filled, some mundane, but all important.
As a parent who has lost a child, a cousin who lost her oldest cousin, a niece who lost her only aunt and uncle, a grandchild who lost all of her grandparents by the time she was fifteen, there are a lot of memories that I hold. I hold them tightly, with love. After Sam’s death, I realized that I am absolutely terrified of the idea that someday there will be no one left who remembers him — I know realistically that happens to all of us, but the idea that would happen to Sam breaks my heart again. It made me realize that my aunt and uncle had to feel that way too, and that even though we don’t talk about it directly, I suspect my surviving cousin and my own children probably fear that for their lost siblings. So I hold those memories tightly, fiercely, and I share them.
This weekend we looked at photos, some I’d never seen before, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to spend the time going through them with my cousin and my husband. So many of those who are gone never got to meet my husband and my children, but he has heard about them all, and with these boxes of photos, he got to see some of them the way I see them in my mind. I fully admit starting to cry a couple times, but I also laughed until it was hard to breathe as we looked through the piles.
Now that I am home, I want to share a couple memories of those who are gone, and share their names, because I want them remembered — they deserve to be remembered.
My grandma (the real/first Anna Belle Rose): I remember her love of sitting on her front porch in the summer, listening to the Red Sox, keeping me company as I fell asleep on the trundle bed on the porch — never making me feel silly for being nervous about falling asleep alone when I was little.
My grandfather (Alfred Hogar): I remember how he would smile when I would come into the room as a little, little girl.
My uncle (John): we battled fairly often, but when I married a man with small children, he brought my new stepson the tool kit he had been given as a child, welcoming my new children into the family.
My aunt (Barbara): she painted her toe nails with me, met me in Manhattan to take me up the World Trade Center, once sent me a ham for Christmas. Even as she struggled after the loss of her own son, she always made me feel special.
My cousin (Michael): he taught me to love Saturday Night Live and the Boston Bruins, never minded my gerbils, taught us the Alka-Seltzer song, and would scare me to death when he would pull his bridge out of his mouth.
And Sam. Our Sam. The memories of him fill us all, spilling over sometimes in laughter, sometimes in tears. Today, I remember his love of seeing how many grapes he could toss up and catch in his mouth.
Tonight, I remember them all, as I do everyday, and give thanks that they graced my life.