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Death and Art: To Remember

I have recently felt, since the one year anniversary of my step mother’s death a week ago, a severe sense of disorientation because of how the body remembers. Through this disorientation I have found my grounding in remembering how strong my sisters and I were.

We did it.

We faced final hours at hospice, We picked the readings for funeral mass,  We created the picture slide show and poster, We wrote the text of her memorial card in both Spanish and English, We chose the dress she would be buried in,  the casket, and the type of gravestone she would have, We stood strong at the burial, and maybe the hardest thing We each wrote and told our personal eulogy for her.

On Monday afternoon over a pitcher of beer and cider, with my friends Annie B. Coursey and Molly Greville, we happened upon the subject of eulogies. Annie mentioned that a eulogy is probably one of the most important pieces of writing anyone will ever write. I then shared that the eulogy I wrote for my step-mother was saved on my phone, and that I my younger sister and I definitely wrote it in our phones on the way to the funeral mass….and that that was just how it happened in the midst of everything else I had to plan and focus on. The conversation was then took a lighter turn and the subject passed. But I Annie’s comment stuck with me. I don’t know where people really go when they cease to be on this earth, and I don’t think I can believe that they no longer exist. They live inside us. They live in the remembering.

So, as Annie would say, here’s to you Ligiesita. I present to all, one of the most important pieces of writing I have ever created:

Ligia loved to talk. And I love to listen so I guess it worked out well most of the time. One of the last times she was back home, we went on a walk around the neighborhood and she just talked and talked, telling me about her university years and the first time she lived away from home with roommates. All the shenanigans they would get into and how free she felt to be on her own in a big city studying. There was something magical, about her stories because they didn’t only impart wisdom, they painted a clear snapshot of her life that I could easily fit in my pocket as a shared memory even though I was never there. She gave pieces of herself with her stories, and conversations. And I think thats probably why she had so many friends and touched so many lives.

Ligia was my step mom. And I stand here this morning with a heart overflowing with gratitude. I am thankful for the years I was her honorary little girl and we went to lake placid, disney, and she helped me dress up as my dad for my one woman show where I impersonated him for his birthday. I am thankful for how happy she made my dad over the years. But most of all, I am thankful for the gift of my little sisters. She lives on through them, and they are my heart. Thank you.

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