Excerpt from Meet Me By The Gate:
Item # 30 – Painting of Mom and Dad
I’ve painted a portrait of Mom and Dad. I want you to have it. Perhaps if you can hang where you can see it every day you’ll never find yourself unable to remember what they looked like.
I woke up last night, crying. I dreamt I was in heaven. It was bright and shiny. Everyone was happy, just as you’d expect. But I was surrounded by strangers, alone. I couldn’t find my parents. It’s been over twenty years since I last saw them, spoke to them, hugged them, since I became no one’s daughter. I wondered through the crowd, looking in every face. But I couldn’t remember what they looked like. I couldn’t find them. I woke up sobbing.
What kind of person can’t remember their parents’ faces? The people who spent most of their lives taking care of me and I can’t remember them.
I lay in the dark, trying to remember. Dad had dark wavy hair, a large nose I think, but I could only see bits and pieces, like a puzzle you’ve lost most of the pieces to. I tried to concentrate on his face, but it’s just a vague blur.
REMEMBER HIM, concentrate. Remember his face the last time you saw him, at his funeral.
Brown suit, one button, small lapel, white shirt, but I can’t get above his collar. Just when his face starts to become clear, it slips away again. I can’t see him. Why didn’t I commit him to memory? Surely I realized it was the last time I’d see him.
What about Mom? The last time I saw her, she was sick in bed with cancer. I didn’t want to remember her like that. I thought of the picture I have of her, with that red hair and green eyes, surely I can remember. I concentrate on the picture – blue background, white blouse, red hair waving done over her shoulders. I could almost see her face. Her eyes, I couldn’t get hold of her eyes. I had her nose and the shape of her face, but it was just individual pieces. I couldn’t assemble them. I couldn’t see her.
How will I find my parents in heaven when I can’t remember them? Will they remember me? How long before my son forgets me? I’m afraid I won’t find my parents in heaven. I’m afraid in the dark. I am afraid.
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