“I was looking at the photographs and I started thinking that there was a time when these weren’t memories.” ~ Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Death has been the theme for me this past month with my uncle passing away last week and the 21st death anniversary of my sister on March 31.
Because of the lockdown last year, I was not able to visit my sister’s grave. I had been dreaming about her recently and I took it as a sign that it was time to make the trek down to Maryland to visit her.
St. Rose of Lima Church | Gaithersburg, Maryland
She is in a nice resting place. The grounds are well kept, and she is located underneath a tree next to the church. I sat with her awhile and told her that I missed her. I apologized for not visiting more often, but I know that she knows that she is always in my heart.
She died in 2000, so camera phones were not yet widely available, I don’t think. It was not how it is these days, with a camera readily available at your fingertips. These days, people take photos of everything, and I am grateful for the technology and to have the opportunity to document and immortalize important events in my life with videos and photographs.
I wish I had taken more photos with my sister. I don’t have nearly enough. All I really have are my memories, and those sadly tend to fade with time.
“And when he died, I suddenly realized I wasn’t crying for him at all, but for the things he did. I cried because he would never do them again, he would never carve another piece of wood or help us raise doves and pigeons in the backyard or play the violin the way he did, or tell us jokes the way he did. He was part of us and when he died, all the actions stopped dead and there was no one to do them the way he did. He was an individual. He was an important man. I’ve never gotten over his death. Often I think what wonderful carvings never came to birth because he died. How many jokes are missing from the world, and how many homing pigeons untouched by his hands? He shaped the world. He did things to the world. The world was bankrupted of ten million fine actions the night he passed on.” ~ Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
My uncle passed away last week. He was my father’s youngest brother. Among my father’s siblings, there’s only my father and his next oldest brother left. My father will turn 83 this year, and my uncle will turn 85 in June.
I had not seen my uncle since 2016, and prior to then, I had not seen him since I was a child. It is a curious thing how memories bind our love towards people even when we rarely see them. I have lifelong memories of my uncle from when I was about nine years old. We lived in California then and my uncle had not married yet. He came to our house often. I think he even lived with us for a time, if memory serves me correctly. Anyway, I remember how he was the “fun” uncle who would buy us candies and make us laugh. He had a wonderful singing voice too, reminiscent of Matt Monro. When I was around ten, my uncle married and then my cousin was born. After that, we rarely ever saw them, and some years later, my family moved to the East Coast, and I never saw him again until my visit to California in 2016.
I feel as though I am not worthy to speak of him since I rarely ever saw him. In a span of a year, I probably only thought of him a few days out of the 365 days, on holidays and such. But love does not keep score, does it? Time and distance have no weight when you love someone. It is just there. And now he’s gone. But the love is still there. It was always there. And I will miss him and mourn all the days we did not spend together, but I will hold tightly to the memories I have held since I was a young girl.