Time slips through our fingers like grains of sand in an hourglass. People like to think of time as a linear construction, but it’s flexible; the power of time is moldable with our own memory. In nanoseconds, people are able to put themselves in those photographs. The power of time is fueled by photographs. Photographs that were lived in the moment. Photographs we took when we were young. Photographs that we get to explain to grandchildren and explain life lessons about.
Why? More than ten years later and I can’t figure out the riddle everyone is still trying to figure out. Only one man knows. As I stare holding a photo that’s maybe twelve years old, memories rush through my mind like a tilt a whirl in a carnival. I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sensation that I somehow remembered those days. I have no recollection of those days, but I felt the moments.
When we are in a moment we don’t think about trying to appreciate it. We live in it. People are greedy for moments, but then later mourn memories. A blonde, young woman with blue-jade eyes poses with a jokester of a man. A dog sits in his arm almost asleep. The dog looks as though he’s ready for the photo. This photograph reminds me that I mourn my dog, Digit. Half lab, half dachshund. He died when I was fourteen, and I still feel a pouring storm in my chest just from saying “Digey”. I mourn a lot of things that I didn’t say or do. Sometimes I mourn not appreciating what I had. I should have loved everyone more, and I still wish I didn’t live in moments. I wish I thought before I said some things. I wish I would have given Digey more hugs than I did, and I wish I would have seen he was sick sooner.
My parents looked like the perfect ideal marriage. One kid, two dogs, a basketball hoop in the back, and what I thought was happiness. Holding your daughter and having your free spirited wife smile seems like what every person would want, but not my dad. He was hip. Friends with everyone. Intelligent, humorous, and thoughtful. Mostly too thoughtful. His thoughts consumed him in a make believe world of nurturing of souls. A soul trying to find a place. He thought and still thinks he looking for a physical place, but he will continue to be oblivious to this emotional state he desperately needs. My dad was and still is a very different man. He asked you about what you thought in God, and then later watched Family Guy in the living room. Nothing could break his family. His sisters and mother were tighter than rope, but soon as we grow up, we find out that rope can break.
Words are the most powerful, but useless tool we use. We say things we don’t mean, and those words glide off our tongue like figure skaters. We say things that were in the moment. “Tell me when you drop out of college this time…” My grandmother said to her son. A son who went through an abusive father. Verbally, physically and emotionally. A son who never mentioned his father to his children. A son who still doesn’t know how to be a father, even at forty years old. Somehow her words triggered him to forget those memories. Forget the photographs and to forget the moments that I took for granted. My family hasn’t spoken to my dad in four years. Her son and my father. A man too stubborn to even say I forgive you.
Short, blonde hair and blue green eyes. Eyes that showed compassion, but the determination of an independent woman. My mother is a kind women who never figured out what she deserved. She deserved a husband who wanted to travel, who loved art, and who loved her child. At this moment she needs self realization. She needs to realize that she is more than a Sunsweet worker. She’s worth way more than the woman her ex husband slept with. Her husband ignored the jewel he found in a pile of coal, but instead found another piece of coal to burn his emotions away.
The photographs that I hold tell a story. A story about a marriage slowly ending and a child not being able to have anymore family photos. Photos that her daughter will ask their grandfather what happened, because they repressed so many memories. And he’ll respond with “You look back at photos and wonder what happened, Kate. What happened for everything to go so badly. You can’t hold that weight. When my mother died, I had no one. All of my family members were dead or not there. So I prayed. I talked to God everyday because I had no one else. I let him take my weight, because people can’t carry that heavy of weight. You can’t carry the weight your dad gave you, Kate.”
The force of his words hit me hard. I stood there sobbing. The photographs were heavy as boulders. They were waiting to fall onto my chest, and that’s what they had done. They had shattered my sternum and laid there inside me as the murder weapon.
My great grandmother saved these photos for me inside an olive green box. She had white hair, barely could walk, and was as stubborn as a mule. She died last month only a couple days before her birthday. I didn’t cry, feel sad, or even feel like mourning. I received my box on Friday, and waves of emotions hit me like a tsunami. I never thanked her for the photos that she saved for me. Photos that I secretly wanted because I was a kid with no idea of what my childhood consisted of or what it was before they were split. Now at this moment I don’t miss her presence, I miss her willingness to forge my story through photos and memories. Stories that held images of my mom and great grandfather on the Fourth of July. Images of my mom and dad happy before I was born, and even images of us all happy together. Photographs that I chose to repress at a young age, or ones I was just too young to even remember. No one had done this for me, and for that, I am grateful she was one of my grandmothers.