25 June 2012

On dogs, children and living forever.

Everyone seems to be having babies around here.  It's making me kinda antsy, like I'm next in line, as if it were something mandatory like a tetanus shot. I go through phases of wanting a baby. For instance, when I see Matt holding a baby, I go weak in the knees. It's one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.

But at any notion of something going wrong, I shut down. And that scares me when I imagine a sweet baby falling victim to my inability to cope. Or imagining an inability to have a sweet baby, period.

For heaven's sakes, I'm still struggling with the loss of our dog, Emma. I've found myself doing what I thought I'd never do: internally blaming Chester for the ways in which he isn't as "good" as Emma. And well, that's so completely unfair of me to do...seeing as how my memory of her is fading, which only makes me hate myself.

And now my grandmother's life is slowly fading. I was shocked when my mother reminded me of her age: 86. When did that happen? There's just some people that never age in my mind. It's like there's this certain age of theirs where they affected me in some profound way, and that's how I always picture them. Or maybe it was just the last time I asked how old they were. To me, my mother is always 40 and her mother, always 70. They aren't supposed to age.

It means they can't live forever, like we all think grandmothers and mothers are supposed to when we're little.

It got me thinking about my father's father and how I started asking him questions about his side of the family, wanting to know about their life in the south as African Americans. I must have been in 5th or 6th grade. And then I lost him, too.

He has a sister who is one of the most wonderful women I've ever come to know. And she has answers to questions that have been plaguing me since middle school.

One night in bed, I told Matt about my attempts to interview my grandfather about his family, and I started crying because everything just felt too late. And then he reached over and took my hand and said, "then I guess we need to take a trip to Mississippi."

Even if I can't find the courage to ask Aunt Sis, my grandfather's sister, if we could come see her, my heart is glad and safe in the gentle love of my husband, and I know that at least I can find rest in being able to document the incredible way he lives life.

But this is something I really want to do before I run out of time. I want to photograph my mother's mother and my father's aunt. I want to go home and search my old bedroom for that notebook where I wrote down my grandfather's words so long ago, so I can finish what I started. So I can help my memory, already forgetting after 25 years of living, to remember when everyone's gone.




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