Wednesday, September 18, 2013

for my cousin amanda.

andrea and amanda.
     Every year on September 18, I remember my sweet cousin Amanda. It’s the day she and her unborn baby passed away. Every year I read what her mom and sisters have to say about it, about the experiences they’re missing out on with her, about the trial it is to live without her. Every year memories are shared, funny things, sweet things, small things that tell us how Amanda’s life touched someone else.
It doesn’t seem any easier as time goes on for her immediate family. If anything, it seems harder, as the distance between memories and the present widens. As if they are climbing a mountain, and look back often to see Amanda and her unborn child standing there in the distance, frozen in time, waving. Growing smaller. The sight is hard to bear, and I imagine that some days they refuse to turn around in the faint hope that the pain will go away.
But on the anniversary of her death or her birth, everyone looks back. And for that day, for me and for everyone, her presence seems as close as it ever was. Her smile, her mannerisms, her words. The distance between the present and the way it used to be shrinks until it is nothing, and you imagine her reaching to you from behind a sheer curtain. Reaching and smiling and right there.
And for that day, the presence of that memory is bittersweet. Sweet with the nearness of her, the truth of that nearness. She is never far away, standing in the distance, frozen in a smiling wave. She is alive and thriving, climbing her own mountain, walking right next to you, and for precious moments in life, precious reminders like the day she died, you can feel that. You feel the warmth of her hug, the infectiousness of her laughter, the cadence of her voice.
     But the moment is tinged with bitterness, because no matter how near she feels, she is still far enough that it hurts. She stands behind a mere veil, the gauzy fabric between physical life and physical death: just on the other side, close enough to feel, far enough that words and sound and touch fail. Sometimes, in your dreams, that veil thins, and there she is and there you are, and the presence of her is not bitter at all.
      Except in waking.
      To Amanda's loved ones--to her sisters, her brother, her father and mother, her daughter and husband, her friends: I have never lost a loved one as close to me as Amanda was to you. But I want you to know that I am looking back on her life at the same time as you are. Right now, this day, and every year from this day, I will look back and reflect on her beautiful story and will feel some of the hurt of not having her here any longer. Not nearly as much as you hurt, but some.
     I hope you are doing all right on your mountains.
     I hope you can feel the nearness of her, despite the veil.
     Most of all, I hope you look forward, past the long journey in mortality that you have without her. I hope you see the time when she’ll be breathing and smiling and laughing, when the veil lifts from between you, and at the very moment of its fluttering ascent, I hope you feel her arms around you and hear her voice in your ear, telling you that she’s missed you, and you’ve done wonderfully, and that she loves you so much.
     Until the sweetness of that reunion, I hope you look neither backward nor forward, but right at your side, because that’s where Amanda is.

1 comment:

  1. My dear Marissa,
    I thought that I had read this before, but I hadn't. I love it, and I love you. Thank you.