In my head that was when death was the most real. But that acute loss wasn’t death. Not the sudden parting of soul and body. Death was the slow and steady breakdown of a fragile body. Decay of flesh still indwelt with spirit. The opposite of growth. Instead of counting words acquired, the words were lost.
This slow insidious creeping death had her months before. She ceased to be herself, ceased to be ours, long before her heart stopped beating. But as long as there was a heartbeat there was some small hope that maybe this wasn’t the end. There was still a chance for the miracle of pulling her back from the grip of creeping death.
But death maintained its hold.
And perhaps still does. At first the day by day hollow ache. A room not lived in. A chore no longer required. Everything we’d grown to consider normal hat to be re-written and new habits formed. This too was death. Day by day the acute pain faded. Life didn’t feel so strange. The lack became a usual part of life and then it wasn’t a lack any more. Week by week things were boxed or sold or given. They weren’t needed. They were in the way. They were a reminder. And year by year reminders slipped from consciousness, followed by the memories they marked.
This too is death
Somewhere in a teapot in Virginia are the remains of my sister. DNA reduced to component parts. Carbon to carbon. Ash to ash. Dust to dust. There is a painting of her too. A hopeful vision from a family friend. These are the remains. But not all that remains.
I have my own urns gathering dust in the shadowy corners of memory. Mementos to mark a loss. Trophies proving an existence. This person used to be in my 3 dimensions and now she is not. They only way I can still connect is to skew the fourth dimension with a concerted effort. I can think back to what was or project to the present of what never could be. And the interaction must always be solitary and one way. Even a memory shared by others is tainted by my own experiences. The colors of the paintings the study of my mind have faded based on how the sun shines in through my eyes. This is not the real thing, only my best rendition. And as years approach decades, the death of memory continues. I can hold fewer images and those become ever more altered to fit my present desires.
As ashes don’t make a body, memories don’t make a soul.
Written 8/6/11. Edited 3/20/12. Spencerport.