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We Will Burn Brightly

Spending lots of time lately amidst twinkling memories of those who have either slipped away or were ripped away. Drifting through other people's stories, often wishing for better closings to their chapters in the great book, running through our intersections during long meditations, considering their ambitions and struggles and what ended up mattering. The paths they changed through influence or inspiration...and, sometimes, imperfection.

Surprising how many voices stay fresh after so many years, how many eyes still gleam through the abyss, how many remembered smiles shine on. In dreams, they are not lost. We can dance, run through the tide, laugh as the sky spins, and embrace once again. Their shivering sparks zip through the cosmos and they seem as free as I want them to be. A nightly reweaving of our history together by giving us time we didn't have or options we never considered. Eyes grind open and only impressions remain. Only the emotions settled into the honeycomb of memory, startlingly fresh through every possible measure of removal.

When one is fortunate enough to spend most of a lifetime surrounded by brilliant, creative, troubled, adventuring, lightning-hot souls, loss is going to be part of the blessing. Knowing it going in doesn't relieve the sharp sting when a stranger's face holds a lost friend's smile. Nor will it ease the lurch of remembering an old argument never settled. There will be words left unsaid and questions unresolved. Fortunately, if one has been even minimally observant, there will be memories to draw close. A patchwork softened with time and tears, held tightly between arms and heart, trying to keep the echo of their existence resounding for as long as their stories can be told. There is no heirloom or memorial as vital as the pieces of the stories passed on and shared for those who have now become part of the past, who drift off as the tapestry moves on, from now on an occasional apparition on the edges of futures they influenced. Keeping their chapters alive and in memory allows these spectral threads to remain clearly etched, readable even by those who missed the opportunity.

Collecting the internal artifacts of association and watching them simplify in the heat of grief yields a concentrated after-image of those lost, often binding to existing symbols, personalising them beyond affection or affiliation, lacquering them with deeper meaning. A red babushka sprinkled with sand. A wheelchair in the sunlight. Coty lipstick on a tea cup. A pig. Pearl-handled revolver. Violets. Marbles. Red keds. As we grow older, the list grows longer. The Cosmos becomes rife with reference points to the footsteps stilled on the path as we walked on. Through survivor guilt and a world overlaid with spiked memories, we watch as our lives are enfolded in time's tight embrace. No wonder so many become fragile with fear of the end as their connections whittle down through the years.

Remembering can be a balm. The strongest personal memories, the most exacting lessons, first meetings, final contact - those come readily, easily. More difficult are their personal histories, the other facets of their lives separate from specific connections, the foibles spotlighting their humanity. These are the elements I run through when remembering those who won't be continuing on the road with us in the manner to which we became accustomed. Grieving that fact, accepting their path will not resume, is what most struggle with in the mourning process. The corporeal form seems super-tangible, even inviolate, most of the time. Accepting the loss of contact and inability to change any element prior to that final moment is a barbed hurdle one must face too soon and too often.

Recalling collected snippets of life stories, then, becomes a tribute to each too-brief life, every dream they'd hoped to achieve, every stumble they shared to help us avoid the same fate. Retelling those same stories transforms the catalogue of memory into a living monument knit of extraordinary experiences and accrued observations. In preferred outcomes to the inevitable, most people hope those they loved and treasured will take a moment to say a good word or two in their favour. Keeping an entire history dynamic and relevant seems akin, then, to starting a cosmic standing ovation.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
cheryl_f
Aug. 10th, 2009 04:29 pm (UTC)
Wow.
Yes, exactly.
As long as one person remembers, they are not gone.

Thank you for expressing this so beautifully.
saintcynr
Aug. 10th, 2009 06:52 pm (UTC)
Good post, monkey.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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