Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day...

Greetings All,

I thought it might be appropriate, being Memorial Day weekend and all, to do a Memorial Day post in honor of Amie.  She might not have been in an officially declared war…but I think we can all agree that her battle with cancer qualifies her for the honorifics I might toss her way.

To start, we now have Amie’s remains with us at our home. 

Anya has been busy today arranging the area where we’re going to keep Amie’s remains until we inter her remains at Lakeside Cemetery sometime next month, after school lets out.

Shelley had created these paper doll-like creations a few years ago for the girls to color and create with, and Anya’s been busy modifying them today to be her and Amie.  It’s amazing how creative she can be, and how she so often sees beyond the limitations of what things are, to see what they can be, given time and energy and creativity.

We made a joke to someone a while back that Anya is Luna Lovegood, the character from Harry Potter who is…..a work of creativity and truly her own person.  

Each year I know Anya, I know her to be more like Luna, and more passionately her own kid.  I can think of nothing better for her to thrive through this.

As you might imagine there are a lot of things we’ve ignored over the last few years, and lots of “obligations” that have piled up, literally and metaphorically, over that time period.  One of them is paperwork.  Shelley is a saver, and a keeper, and wants to keep paper of all kinds in case we need it later.  I often see her point, but at other times disagree….not that she throws any of it away if I disagree, she just notes my disagreement and files it away anyway.  J 

Anyway, today she came across a file with all the pictures from our wedding, and how we found pictures from each year of our birth to act as table number markers on the tables at the reception (which was 50 yards away from the ceremony in her parent’s back yard!). 

So, this picture was in that pile, and was either the year 3 or year 4 placeholder.  I look at this picture, and I see Amie so much. 

When I asked my sister if she could see Amie in this picture, she said today, “Yes! It's the smirky smile. The cheeks, the look in your eye. I always said that she has your spunk.”  Our birthdays were one day apart, and I could always see a lot of my stubborn nature, my obstinacy, and my spirit in her…while I see so much of Shelley in Anya. 

I talked about Ele's Place a little bit last post, and here's the picture I took as we released balloons at the end of the 2nd to last session.  We tied messages to each of them, and let them fly.  This was easy for me (as I mentioned last post), as I had written a letter to Amie just days beforehand.

Just like Anya, Shelley is an amazing artist, and drew a little Amie on the envelope that held the letter I wrote to Amie.  (of course, I smeared the ink...)  This letter, with the hearts I taped to it, are inside the urn, with the rest of the materials we made for her.  

This picture is from yesterday, and is of Anya and Allyssa at my favorite place at MSU, the waterfall area behind Wells Hall and the MSU Administration bldg.  Allyssa was interested in checking out MSU, as she's nearing the end of her Junior year, and is starting to open up other options for college other than Ann Arbor.  I walked her through campus (and walked, and walked, and walked), and talked about what I loved and what I did not love about life in East Lansing during my 5 years there.

This picture was a great representation of what I hope other people do for Anya...they become asurrogate Amie.  They, for however many minutes as they can, step into the gap that was vacated by Amie when she died, and give Anya a best friend.  I know, in time, she'll have plenty of those...but right now...I think she's a lonely little girl, surrounded by lonely adults doing their best to provide her with all that she needs, and probably failing a little bit.  Thank you, Allyssa, for being that proxy, for however minutes you could.

I sit here, having typed and thought for the last hour or so, and realize that I’ve written a ton about Anya, some about Shelley…and almost nothing about Amie.  I wonder if that’s the best way, maybe.  We’re going to be thinking about her for the rest of our lives, but her story has ended. She’s alive in us, but not alive.  She’s a part of us, but apart from us. 

…and what does that say about us, other than the fact that our way to remember her, our way to make sure she lives on in our lives is to live.  To do.  To talk. To meet. To experience. To……everything. 

Most days, when I allow myself to think about it, I feel this gaping, sorrowful absence where she was.  I can see the seductiveness of that.  To mourn, and not allow myself to move beyond this.  But I must, and we must, and you must….  Amie was never a kid who had much patience, and wanted things to go, go, go.  She would want us to experience everything there was to experience, and not wallow in our miseries.

So, on this Memorial Day weekend, in which we’re called to remember those who have passed before us, and remember those who have given their lives for us to have the freedoms we have, I shall strive to get off my butt and do something that would have made her smile, whatever it is that I can do. 

Ride a bike, take a walk, go buy a loaf of cinnamon chip bread from Great Harvest and eat it by ripping off huge chunks with Anya and eating it with your hands…whatever I can to take huge breaths of life, and remind myself that there’s a lot more in front of me than there is behind me.  Tomorrow, that’s the challenge, and I shall do my best to meet it. 

Anyone want to join me?