It’s Veteran’s Day, which is set aside as a day of remembering those who served our country. And then there’s Memorial Day, as a day to remember those who died serving our country.
But where’s the day, the national holiday that honors our loved ones and the normal folks who didn’t lay down their lives for their country? Where’s the day that we remember the mothers, fathers, siblings, aunts and uncles and grandparents that are no longer a part of our lives? The friends we’ve lost? Why is there no national holiday that honors those everyday heroes, the ones who raised children but left them too soon? The friends that no longer smile upon us and brighten our lives? The grandparents that dote on their grandchildren?
My answer to that is simple- it happens every day. Or it should happen every day.
If you’ve read this site for any amount of time you know that I no longer have my Mom and my sister Karen in my life. They died three years apart in the mid-90′s. It was a really awful time of my life as both died suddenly and tragically. But I think the worst part of losing them both is how the world simply forgets about them once they’re gone. My family certainly doesn’t forget; we can’t ignore those holes in our memories regardless of how long it’s been. And no one who has ever lost a parent forgets that influence. My Mom has been gone for 16 years and yet I still hear her laugh, and feel her guidance every day. I still bristle years later from the callous remark made to me a short time after my Mom died when someone made the offhand comment that “Jane was your Mother.”
Jane still is my mother, no less than she was when she was here and even more so because she’s gone. The influence never stops. And the fact that she gave me life doesn’t stop at her death. It’s the same way with my sister, who doesn’t cease being my sister once she leaves this Earth. Along the way of learning to navigate life without them, I began to think it was vital to do something to remember them, every day. And somehow have a means of showing others that I will never forget, and that they shouldn’t either. I didn’t know what that would look like but somehow the vision I had kept coming back to Dragonflies. And then browsing the Internet one day, I came across this from The Dragonfly project.
“In the bottom of an old pond lived some grubs who could not understand why none of their group ever came back after crawling up the lily stems to the top of the water. They promised each other that the next one who was called to make the upward climb would return and tell what had happened to him.
Soon one of them felt an urgent impulse to seek the surface; he rested himself on the top of a lily pad and went through a glorious transformation which made him a dragonfly with beautiful wings. In vain he tried to keep his promise. Flying back and forth over the pond, he peered down at his friends below. Then he realized that even if they could see him they would not recognize such a radiant creature as one of their number.
The fact that we cannot see our friends or communicate with them after the transformation which we call death is no proof that they cease to exist.”
Which then led to this permanent reminder that I carry every day on my right forearm.
Our culture doesn’t like death. We don’t honor it much and for most people, I think the thought of dying is pretty frightening. The means of one’s dying becomes a source of discomfort too, such as the case with my sister, who committed suicide. People don’t understand it and it’s better to just ignore it than talk about it, talk about why, try to make some sense of it. People turned their backs on me when my sister died because they couldn’t handle it. And when I would talk about her, I saw fear in the faces of others. We don’t honor the dead. We sweep them under the rug and act like it never happened. Or we want to, anyway.
But I don’t. And I won’t. That’s why I inked the symbolism on my arm. And I love it when people ask me what it means. To me, it means the world, my world and what I’ve lost. That’s important to me and I will never tire of telling anyone about it.