Shadow might not be the perfect word for the grief that creeps in when the reminder of loss rears its head, but its near perfect. Lately, I've felt that dark specter follow my footsteps--to work, home, around the corner you used to roam. I feel the loss that you've left, leaving us behind. I feel that you're happy, but that cannot quiet the tinge of sadness that darkens my doorstep. I miss you. I miss you. I miss you. How many times, how many ties will be severed to death? So many. So many more to come, and I feel heavier with the reminder of every one.
But I know you don't. I feel your peace. I remember you. I remember you. I remember you. I remember you all to the children who won't know you. They won't know you were the first to meals and the last to leave, too many friends to greet. They won't remember that you had a gentle hand for babies, even if you were rough around the edges. They won't recall the way your ear turned up to greet the bird's call and how you answered back. They won't remember the joy that lit your face when you held them. But I do. I have such a power in my memories. Did you know your memories are powerful. Did you know they can stop history from repeating, can change grief to laughter, can magic away tears?
I try to remember that, with the stories I tell my kids, the pictures I paint of you. of you. of you. of you. of you. Of all I've lost. Of the ever growing souls that graced my life. When I walk the lavender fields I remind them that that scent, the honey sweetness of the purple petals means their grandfather once walked this earth, knew the plants by name and befriended the birds. I try to remind them that the smack of a ball connected to the wood of a bat means that their uncle Jim hit one over the fence and looked very pleased with himself about it all. I try to remind them that silly, made-up songs and smuggled chocolate means their Grandma Bo is in them always. I try to remind them that the pull of paddle through water, the song that aches in their chest until it comes out is their Grandpa Jones reminding them of their love of water. I try to remind them that the scent of cinnamon rolls and dried flowers and hours spent with puzzles and board games is their Grandma Root making sure they are spending time well. I try to remind them that a strong voice over the heads of well-dressed ladies and men, the sturdy arm of a baptism is their Grandpa Bo leading the way for where they will go. I try to remind them that a penchant for mischief and a good joke is their Grandpa Springer asking them to smile, to not take life too serious. I try to remind them that the best pie crust and most delicious noodles are Grandma Springer's way of telling them they must serve the people they love.
And these reminders get to shape the beauty they will never know in this life. But they also cast away dark shadows. They try to remind me of the blessings I've known. And I try not to cry.
H.M Jones is the author of B.R.A.G Medallion Honor and NIEA finalist book Monochrome, its prequel Fade to Blue, the Adela Darken Graphic Novellas, Al Ravien's Night, The Immortals series, and several short stories.