My great-aunt Emma died, was it two months ago? My dad let me know on the phone as I was walking up Broadway and it was warm and summery so it was probably a couple of months ago now. I hadn’t seen her in years but her presence was always a bright sunny one in my memory.
We lost my grandfather well over a year ago. His loss looms large, especially over my mother. My grandmother, who doesn’t remember me and recently referred to my mother as her son, probably also feels his loss profoundly, but she’s not aware of it. She sometimes thinks the man across the dining room in the Memory Wing is her husband – just having dinner with friends over there – just out of reach.
I wear his hat when I can and remember him young and jolly.
We lost my Great Uncle Gene a while ago now. There were difficult stories about his passing but his life was a celebration. I remember him bringing me to his flower shop a few times (or was it just once? before a party?) I was captivated by the tools of the trade – the foam, the rods, the props to keep the flowers upright and performing at their best. He had a series of little dogs and collected Coke memorabilia. The house he shared with his “friend” Jim was full of Coke signs and Coke, too.
We lost my sweet Great Aunt Marge, my Uncle Tom and Cousin Tommy all around the same time. It’s like they were all on a boat and when one corner sank, they all went down.
My friend, Twarne, murdered in New Orleans, at some point in our 20s. Before then, he slid in and out of my life with ninja stealth. A brilliant and prickly mind with a softer heart than anyone knew.
Jody, who took his own young life, vibrates in a deep dark electric blue in my memory. His house, his yard, his letters, his porch, the rainstorms we danced in, the sweatlodge, the artwork, the darkness in him that was bound to emerge, I guess.
My Granddaddy gone, in my early teens. His spaghetti mac, the crab feasts in the backyard, his dogs, his house, the family photograph we were taking when he clutched at my shoulder because he wasn’t well.
A little girl I knew, who was killed in a car accident. Her death was reported to me by my little brother who was also a child at the time. A bright light lost at an early age.
And in the news this year, it feels like all the greats are dying – our childhood icons, our heroes and idols. This is how it will be now, you realize – when death ceases to be an anomaly and is instead a constant fact of life.