The people I loved as a child, I realize, need to be remembered. Not just on special days or in ritualistic ways, but all the time. I need to acknowledge them as part of me. They were my mother and father and sister together.
If it had been my mother and father and sister who had died, I think no one would say you need to put it behind you. They would understand how they might live on in the present for me. Others would feel that they do live on in the present—it would not just be me feeling that way.
Someone would say you look so much like your mother now. Someone would say your dad used to do that same thing.
And actually they are in me. There’s no one to tell me that, but I think it has to be true. It is true, at least, if I let it be true. If I don’t repress those things.
But there’s a layer to this. If I am not allowed to remember them, then it’s as though they are not worth remembering—they are subhuman. And, by extension, so am I.
I think that’s why I keep returning to the grief. Not because I want the sadness, but I want remembering to be tolerable. I want to be able to do it without falling apart. It’s like learning to swim. You keep trying one badly executed stroke after the other and eventually you get to the other side of the pool. I am swimming through grief to get to a way to remember that doesn’t hurt so much.