My mom was able to go to her funeral (I wasn't) and bring me back little pieces of my aunt's history. She was an amazing woman: funny, lighthearted, an incredible quilter, artistic, lovable. My mom told me stories of how when she was little, it was her aunt's house that she look forward going to the most. It was there that she could blossom and thrive in ways she couldn't at home.
I've always prided myself on not valuing material possessions overly much. I don't believe that the things around us are nearly as important as less tangible moments: a kiss from a small child, the smell of wood burning, church bells in the distance. But my viewpoint wavers a bit when I encounter objects from the past, especially when it belonged to someone I knew.
When someone we love dies, all we're left with is the things they owned. Or pictures. Both incite memory--we smell them, we feel a weight wafting around the room, if only for a moment. And they're there--alive!--again for just a few seconds, so strongly rendered in sensation that we have to turn around to make sure our deceased isn't standing there.
|unfinished quilt square|
And the bittersweet sensation that runs through us as we realize--only after our loved is gone--that we shared interests, hobbies even. That if time had been a little kinder, or different, or our clocks could run backward, we could sit together, share cloth and needle and talk of vintage antiques. But we didn't know, and it never occurred to us to ask.
But this is how it goes with our elders. We get used to the idea that they're here and then--suddenly--they're not.
I'm thankful I have my believe: that death isn't the end, that we will one day look over those we've left behind. That my Aunt Rose can see me, sitting in my living room, running my fingers over these treasures, looking them over with an expression of awe and thankfulness.
I am humbled.