The title of tonight's blog post comes from an art exhibit I saw today by artist Perry Rath. I never thought of myself as a person who responded well to modern conceptual art, but after viewing some of his exhibits and reading some of the descriptions that he put with them, I found myself overcome with what he was saying, and also the thoughts that they caused to rise within me.
One of his pieces which struck me particularly hard was called, "You Learn to Love the Place Somebody Leaves Behind for You." It reminded me of a poem I once read and learned when I was about 17. I can't recall the name of the poem, but I do recall it was written by poet, Stephen Spender, and it lamented the death of one who had passed on and who now lingered as only a memory caught in the dresses that hung in the closet.
So many ghosts accompany me. I look at a picture of myself as a youngster and realize that the person I was then is no longer the person that exists today. I am who I am now in this time, and the girl I was no longer exists except as a memory. What I shall become has not yet materialized and yet tantalizing glimpses of the future me alternately taunt and beckon me at times.
I have discovered the disconnect that can happen when children grow up and leave home. I have moved from the extreme intimacy of carrying another person inside of me, to gradual stages of separation until I find myself thinking of them only as they contact me or as something reminds me of them, or I happen to see them, or speak to them on the phone. I never knew this could happen until it did. When will I wipe the last remaining fingerprint from a childish hand from a window or wall?
I wonder... Am I a ghost to my parents when I am not there?
Our lives are so ephemeral. We are as the grass which is here today and gone tomorrow, and the place it existed doesn't know it any more. And yet, there is a tensile strength to these ghosts of memory that has the power to rock our composure.
The anniversary of my maternal grandmother's passing will be here in a month. For so many years Grammy existed on the fringes of my mind as someone who was just there. Distance and circumstances intervened to keep us apart. But any time I went home, I could see her and talk to her. She isn't there any more and tonight as I stood in the art gallery, I was hit afresh with that knowledge. A portion of my living history is now gone beyond recall and yet she lives on in my mother, in me, and in my children through the genetic history that was part of her legacy. So ephemeral and yet so strong.
I didn't know I could miss her so much.