Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Bittersweet Memory

Facebook is reminding me today that it is my Aunt Ann's birthday. She passed away two weeks ago after a years-long battle with cancer. She would have been 50.

I am thinking of her immediate family, for whom this is the first of many firsts of life without Ann. First year she isn't here for her own birthday, her husband's, her children's and grandchildrens. The first 4th of July without her there, the first Christmas.

The first year of life after a loss is the most difficult. Every experience, every holiday brings thoughts of "I wish she were here." It gets a little easier after that, but not by much, until one day you find yourself saying, "How many years has it been? Let me see, she was first diagnosed in spring of...hmm, I guess it's been a long time."

But that is bittersweet, too. Because after a person first leaves you, you don't ever want their memory to fade. You swear you will never forget her face, the tone of her voice, the way she smelled. Yet with time you do forget, and for a while you feel guilty for having forgotten, as if you were somehow disloyal to their being here at all.

It takes some time to finally realize that that is what is meant to happen, that the person would want you to move on, to make new memories and create happiness with those who are still in your life.

If only it took something less than time.

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