Earlier today, I had to Wikipedia “Memorial Day.” And when doing so, I felt like a bad American that I didn’t know the official meaning of the holiday. I assumed it probably had to do with remembering those who have died fighting for our country (which is correct). But then the lines got a little fuzzy. Is it JUST about remembering those who died in the Armed Forces? Or does it extend to remembering people who have gone, in general?
So I did some more research.
And found out that in the 20th century, Memorial Day has come to be the “holiday” where we are to remember loved ones who have died…in battle or not. And also…one in which we throw BBQ’s and light fireworks, and go out of town. Because…I mean, our loved ones would have obviously wanted that for us.
And this got me thinking. What does it mean to remember someone? And who should be remembered? And what are we supposed to think about?
Memories are a funny thing. Most of us try to not remember those who have left…because it hurts. And it tends to bring up tough emotions like pain or anger. And right now as I’m writing this, I’m welling up with tears. Thinking of all the people and things I forget to remember on a daily basis.
Like the smell of the roses from my dad’s rose garden. The sound of water spitting out the mouths of the lions at the cove of his pool. The feeling of getting my first gift, a single silver ring tied to the stem of a red rose placed delicately in my high school locker, from my first love. Or the laughter of my old friend who I hurt a long time ago, and we haven’t talked since. The feeling of driving the moving truck up the driveway when I moved in with my ex. The feeling of my first cat, Meuwy, curled up in one single hand. Or being hugged by my grandpa who smelled like cigarettes.
And as I sit here on Memorial Day, remembering all these people, I realize that they technically haven’t died in battle…never faught in any wars…some of them are still alive, but yet, they have all died in our personal battles together. They are gone. I am gone. In the way that we knew each other. Disappeared. Only in memory now. And remembering them feels like saying goodbye all over again. Punch to the gut. Beating heart.
People come and go…we know this. Some leave us by dying, and some just leave us. It’s the cycle of life. And the way things go. And even in the sad moments, I think it’s so important to appreciate life. All of it. The coming and going. The loving and leaving. The hellos and goodbyes. Because it’s all part of the bigger picture of what we call “our life.” Without it all, we wouldn’t be who we are. We wouldn’t have love to give and lessons to teach and motivation to make this world better. We wouldn’t have the ability to help someone else, going through the same thing. We are all a collection of every person that has come before and touched our lives and made us feel and ripped our hearts open making sure WE know we’re still alive. This isn’t easy. I know, because I’m feeling that right now. Walking the line between accepting this idea and being pissed. (such is life. such is emotion).
So, today, we not only get to remember them, but we get to honor and remember who we are because of them. We can replay the memories in our minds. Go back in time. Thank them for being a part of our lives. And make sure they know that they will live on, forever. Whether it’s the last weekend in May or not…memorializing is happening. In a living, breathing, body, walking around, teaching others the lessons we have learned simply by having those people in our lives.
So I’d like to raise my figurative glass…and salute those who have come before. Those in our lives who have died for us, so that we can be who we are today, full of life and lessons. A beating heart with wings, a collection of all the memories and people who have all led us up to this point. And thank you for being you. For serving. And loving. And ultimately for leaving. We know it’s what you needed to do. And we still love you. I fell apart when you left, but what I’ve built since then is more than I could have imagined.
So to all of you who have left, to all of you who I’ve left, and to those of you who will leave…I remember you. You will live on. Today and always.
P.s. It still hurts. And that’s ok. And I reserve the right to still be mad at you for leaving, time and again. Ok, Dad?
Who in your life needs to be remembered today? Who haven’t you thanked in awhile? Who have YOU become thanks to someone else? Share in the comments below. And if you aren’t already signed up…get in on my newsletter so I can let you know when new things happen here at the blog. Sign up here. Promise no spam or anything lame. Obvs.