Sunday, November 02, 2008

All Soul's Day—A Day of Prayer and Remembrance

This afternoon my friend Ada reminded me that today was All Soul's Day, a day of remembrance, prayer, and "Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed." She remembered her siblings and parents with kind words. Ada also remembered my Mom, another faithful departed, who made her home-going, as my good friend Eunice calls it, almost a year ago.

I've recently returned to Washington from California, where I've been spending lots of time over the past year. In fact, it was a little more than a year ago, October 19, 2007, that my partner Wes and I flew to California to care for my Mom in her final weeks here.

In retrospect there's something paradoxical about those days. They seem both distant and uncomfortably present, as though I could look over my shoulder and see every moment as it unfolds again. When the remembrance of those days glide across my thoughts, I often try to push them away, such is the rush of regret I feel at not having come to my Mom's side sooner, not having spent every moment I was there with her right at her side, not saying to her again and again "thank you" and "nobody could ever have loved me more than you do."

Over time, I've tried to make friends with my regrets. Since they're impossible to shake and ever-present, it seemed smart to try to mingle with them with some sense of resolve. Maybe if I treat them kindly, I say to myself, they'll be less harsh. Sometimes it works, more often not.

Everywhere around me my Mom's lovely face smiles back at me from photographs. She and I together. She, my Grandma, my Aunt Robyn, and I together. There she is as a small girl. I know the stories of that time from her own telling, from my Grandma's reminiscences. I look at her face, captured by the camera's lens, and still wonder at the truth that she isn't here anymore.

I know, she's here with me "in spirit." I even remind myself that I am a part of her. We share DNA. Tonight, as I looked at a photograph of us together in 1991, I was struck by the resemblance. We share so many physical characteristics.

I like the idea of a day of remembrance. And I like the thought that my Mom is one of the faithfully departed. At different times, when we thought she was very close to leaving, I wondered whether her brother David, gone so long now—he left us at the youthful age of 20, and her Grandma were extending their spirits to her, easing her transition, telling her that it was OK to let go, that they were there and that it was a beautiful place where they would be together. I even whispered in her ear that David and "Greatie" were there greeting here, waiting for her. It comforts me to know she's with people she loved and had missed for so long.

It comforts me to know that I will be with her one day, that she will extend her hand to me, embrace me again—another of the faithfully departed.