adjective – having or showing a feeling of vague or regretful longing.
Were you to visit my home, you would likely notice several things. The walls are devoid of any pictures or artwork. The decorations are absent. Only the most essential pieces of furniture remain. It’s a skeleton of a home. You see, we’re in the process of moving, partially due to circumstances beyond our control, and in part by choice. I have moved my share of times, but nothing could have prepared me for this. As I was relating all this to a friend, she shared a prophetic insight. Another layer of goodbyes, she said. Truth.
For me, these layers have looked strikingly similar to boxes, bins, clothing, keepsakes, crafts, and any other item that we humans accumulate when we’ve camped in one spot for a stretch. My summer thus far has consisted of peeling these layers back, one by one. Sometimes frantically, and at other times, with the care and detail of an archivist. And, as with an onion, each new layer peeled brings with it a fresh round of tears to sting the eye.
Which, reader, brings me to that seldom used adjective. In this process, I’ve felt its power most keenly whenever I’ve discovered a trove of forgotten photographs. Those images capture happier days of my life with Alicia. They were moments in time when we were unaware of the danger that lie in wait. Ignorance was bliss. But now, I find that my awareness of what was to come has somehow tinged those memories. The reach of her cancer is now felt within every image, every artifact. The inkwell of loss was upturned, its contents bleeding onto former pages, never to be erased. What to do? Am I ever to hold a memory in my hands without staining it with tears? After much layer-peeling practice, I have found one pearl of wisdom. It is this – to approach each piece as a search for gratitude. To settle into the moment. To recall any sense or emotion that can reinsert me, be it ever so briefly, back into that memory. And ultimately, to be thankful for the gift that moment represents on the scroll of time and human experience. Those moments were real. They really did happen, and they were so good. Ink-stained as they are, I’m learning I can still walk away from those encounters with a heart full of love, and yes, even gratitude.