Chris and I are big fans of Grey’s Anatomy. I like any well-done character-driven drama and Chris likes medical drama, so it was an easy one to agree on.
So anyway, I see that the title of the “Halloween” episode is “Haunt You Every Day.” It’s a title that connects to me very strongly at the moment.
Maybe it’s the whole idea of All Hallows Eve and the Feast of All Saints. As positive as remembering and honoring those who have passed on ahead of us might be, it’s also fraught with fear, ambivalence, grief and loss.
I’m feeling very haunted, lately. Not in the literal sense–but metaphorically speaking, I’ve been visited by “ghosts” aplenty in recent days. Some of them are among the dearly departed from this life, and others are merely (perhaps less dearly) departed from my life, but still among the living.
It’s no secret that I still haven’t completely gotten over the loss of my mom, much less the more recent losses of her father (my Papa Fred) and her mother (my Gigee). We also lost my dad’s oldest brother this summer. It feels as if my heritage, my past, is being pulled up by its roots and shaken. As new doors continue to open for me, I still fear that I will lose who I am while pursuing the woman I could be, without that grounding in my family history and heritage.
There’s also the issue that I am the oldest daughter, and I am completely unprepared and unqualified to take over the role of heritage keeper for my family. My mother and my grandmother were consummate hostesses, capable of planning and executing massive family gatherings every year. That is not me. Maybe it is Jenny or Bobbi–maybe both of them–but it’s not me.
I could possibly pull off the role of family bard–the person who remembers, writes down, and retells all the family stories over and over again. The person who keeps the family photos and remembers the stories behind them. That is another element of loss in losing my mom, grandpa and grandma–I miss sitting around retelling our stories and looking through photo albums.
The fact is, our family heritage may be too big for one person to manage. Maybe it’s time for me and my sisters, possibly our cousins, to connect and talk about how we’re going to maintain a strong sense of family for our collective kids. As the holiday season approaches, I find myself more and more concerned about it.
The other haunting is less straightforward. People who are no longer in my life, for good reason, yet their toxic influence remains–floating around in my head, poisoning otherwise pleasant days. Reminding me of personal tragedies great and small. It’s these ghosts and demons that make me feel like I need an exorcism. Or perhaps I just need to stop carrying around little mental voodoo dolls of them, hoping that they might feel at least a little sting at all my mental prodding and poking.
Someone once wrote that “resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Perhaps it’s time I put down the vial and leave their fate to the One most qualified to determine it.