What are the brightest memories you have of a person? Not just anyone, but a family member. A loved one. I never used to think much about memories. It’s only been in the last few years memories have hinted to me they exist. Mischievous creatures pacing below the surface. Little eruptions. But these are the unsolicited kind of memories.
People in my life have died before, left before. My way of coping was to NOT think about them. If I did, the thought of them would strangle me, draw out the tears. Then I’d want to hid my face and lock myself in a bathroom. I know it’s weird. Crying made me feel flawed. And feeling made me feel weak. Not so much anymore. Now I want to remember.
Now that I want memories, I expected them to be cinematic epics. The lighting would be hazy and sharp at the same time. Skin tones would glow as if we were all lit subcutaneously. The camera angle, from my perspective, would zoom in and out like a Vermont Osprey diving into a lake, and retreating, a fish gleaming in its claws. And the sequence, that moment in time would unfold slowly, like a lily bloom.
My memories of Meme aren’t happening that way. The memories are more like still photographs. To be precise, they are like MY photographs. I remember the way she used to make her sandwiches for bingo, wrapped in wax paper, cut in half. I remember her telling me to paint the cellar way with leftover paint, to clean the attic, and weed the garden. I remember she had good luck charms she’d take with her to bingo and set them out across the top of her stack of cards, and if she was waiting on a number, she’d put her finger on it and chant chant chant for the caller to announce it. I remember asking her if the moon was following us home.
These are macro shots, and photos snapped at exaggerated angles. They aren’t that picture of Saint Peter’s you meant to take on your vacation, the sweeping colonnade that could have been a dozen other places. But because you took it, you were there and present and it’s not only a second, but it’s your second in your story, it has a deeper relevance. A resonance.
*the photo is of me and my grandmother, Meme, from ages ago. She died June 17th, 2012. She has been a constant presence throughout my life. It seems unreal that she is no longer here.