Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Photographs and Memories

Memories are like things that are crammed into a cupboard, put away along with a ton of other things that you forget about. Once in awhile you dig in there to get something out and all the contents come crashing on top of you. So it was for me last night when I heard the title song by Jim Croce, which opened the door to my cupboard.

June, 1984, was the most eventful and emotional time of my life. The time was rapidly approaching when I was to be married, on the 16th. Lots of last minute planning and change of plans were taking place in preparation for that event. My younger sister had her wedding planned for two weeks after mine, so our household was a hub of activity. My father had just gotten out of the hospital after being in for a few days with a heart condition, if I remember correctly, and my older sisters were spending a lot of time at the house helping out. On the night of the 8th most of my sisters were there doing things because mom wasn't feeling very well. About 9 o'clock she suddenly collapsed on the floor. My oldest sister and I tried to use CPR to revive her, but to no avail. The ambulance took her away, and a while later we got a call from the hospital saying she was gone. Our once-solid world crumbled that night. Mom was the glue that held the family together, and she was gone. My marriage the next Saturday, a day which was supposed to be filled with joy and celebration for all, was mostly a superficial ceremony with barely- concealed undertones of mourning for my mother, who had been buried just four days earlier. No one from my mother's side of the family attended, except her mother - my grandmother. I certainly understood this, since I had serious misgivings about going through with the wedding instead of postponing it until a later date. But, we went ahead with it, and my sister did the same two weeks later. She and I were the last to leave home, so my father was left by himself in a quiet, empty house, where just weeks earlier there had been carefree happiness and security and an excited anticipation of the future.
My wife and I moved into an apartment and for the first time I was away from home on my own. That was an exciting venture, but all the changes also played on my emotions. For a very long time I would have dreams where my mother would be taken to the hospital after she collapsed, then would come home alive, only to die again. Many nights I woke up filled with sadness. Also at that time I was working nights in the automotive department of a large department store. On many slow nights I had too much time to think and grief would set in as I thought of my father all alone and the mother I would never see again and the family that I had been so much a part of, now disbanded, seemingly. The song, Photographs and Memories, seemed to be playing all the time over the store's Musak system, each time stirring me to think of mom. The weeks and months following June, 1984, were spent in a daze, filled mostly with sorrow, but beneath that was a tiny light that was the new life I was starting with my wife. That light gradually got brighter and, eventually, pushed the pain and sadness into the cupboard. Occasionally, like last night, everything falls on top of me and I spend hours thinking about things and feeling feelings I hadn't felt in a long time. I think it's good to remember, but it still hurts terribly, even after all this time.


Blogger Laura said...

Sorry for your loss. Your story reminds me of when my son got married. (He was also married on June 16, but in 2001) The Sunday before the wedding, my father-in-law had a mild heart attack and ended up in the hospital. He had complications from the medicine they gave him to thin the blood and he ended up having a massive brain hemorage which caused his death. My son also went through with the wedding as planned. After the ceremony, we stopped at the cemetery so my son could lay his grandpa's boutonniere upon his grave. It was a bittersweet day. The mixture of emotion between so much happiness and so much sorrow all in the same day is hard for anyone to take. I feel your pain.

P.S. Thank you for your comment on my blogsite.

4:25 PM  
Blogger Michelle's Spell said...


What a sad story and awful timing. That sort of pain is something you never get over. Everyone always says that time heals grief, but I have not found that to be the case -- like you said, the light gets brighter (thank God!), but the pain still remains very raw and usually at the strangest moments. Love the title of this piece!

5:40 PM  

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