In a few weeks, it will be the 7th anniversary of Aunt Min’s death – I don’t know how it will feel, but every year is different. Sometimes, it feels a little lighter. Most of the time, I feel pretty good. I am so grateful to have found a new way into our family, and so grateful to have been welcomed. And I’m happy to have rediscovered, and fallen in love with, Louisiana. But there are still hard days. Sometimes, especially as I age, it seems that life is chock-full of loss, and the “job” of getting older can be learning to live “without” so much. The following are a couple of letters written recently to my aunt. (Yes, the letters continue, sometimes surprising me.)
Thinking about things loved and lost: Mom, and Daddy; the Upper Ridge house; my daughters, and the ways we were together when they were young; the so-many things I used to be; and you, Sweet One. I still don’t know if I’m willing to give you up. How can I give up all the light, sweet honey that has saved my life? Does that come at a cost, that juicy, golden food? Possibly, if it keeps me going back to a table that was cleared along ago.
But I’m afraid to let go – what am I, without all of you?
Its been almost 6 years since you’ve been gone. It’s still hard, even though I know I’ve moved on, at least a little.
How long can I be sad, I wonder. How long can I live inside the bubble of grief, where everything new and real and bright seems like too much trouble, or too far away?
The place I keep trying to run away from, to leave, might not be this town, or this state, or the wearied circle of the same old wonderful friends, but the small gray enclosure that the love room has turned out to be. Can love rooms pale and grow tired? Eventually fail to give enough nourishment and liveliness to support a real life after a while? After this long, long while?
Maybe it would be easier if I were in Louisiana, with our people, even though none of them is you. Or maybe that would be just another extension of waiting for you. Its hard to think that, for I so love and long for that nourishment – that sweet food of being there.
But….I’m trying to see…what it would take…to be free. Though I’m not even sure I really want that, if it means giving up on the light you used to be. I’m just tired of the not-quite-darkness – the opaque barrier between me, and the lively rest of the world.
Sometimes, the glorious wrenching love room seems so much more appealing than the drudging, gritty tedium of everyday life. But – isn’t it a dream, really? Aren’t you, now, just a dream?
I’m starting to get mad. I don’t know who I’m angry with – myself, or you. Maybe I’m mad at the world that didn’t offer any bright thing in my small childhood life until you came along – which wasn’t very often, just enough for me to fall in love with you, know there was something to reach for. So I did. And it saved me, at the time.
But now – what? I have to let go? How would I do that?