Tag Archives: remembering lost loved ones

Remember Always

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, Photoshops her father who taught her how to watch her money.My father taught me to sweat a hundred hours before spending a hundred dollars. He died six years ago. But he still shows up for every move I make involving money. He is also in my thoughts when I’m near an ocean, or when I hear an airplane flying overhead.

When I see yellow leaves on the ground, I’m reminded of my friend Andrea who walked with me in a forest of golden maples dropping leaves like tears, in the October before she died.

Rainbow cookies. The sight of them carries me back to my grandmother Omi Rosie.

And when there’s a moon, I stop to remember my daughter.

“I see the moon. The moon sees me. The moon sees the one I long to see,” I’d sung as a girl and later as a mother holding my young Marika. Our planet has one moon. I’ve been singing to it all my life. I can’t always see it but it is out there. Anyone can see the moon, just not all the time. Our ancestors watched that same moon. Our children’s children will look up to the same sky. And wherever Marika is, or is not, if she looks for light in the dark night, she will see the moon. So I keep singing to it. And remembering her.

We have the power to link our loved ones to anything. They are never gone as long as we hold them in our hearts and remember the gifts, miniscule or mighty, they gave us. Worried about forgetting loved ones, I assigned each a “bookmark” or two, special meaningful images like yellow leaves, airplanes, rainbow cookies, or the moon, to forever after be my signal to remember them. In this way, I have regular, but unplanned, appointments with my loved ones who died.

 

How do you remember the ones you love and thought you lost?

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What I Love

Quilt of photographs by Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, to remember her daughter who died, Marika Warden.It was the day after my daughter’s fourth deathday. Marika has a birthday and a deathday. They are each opportunities to celebrate the life that happened in between. The day was filled with friends who called, emailed, facebooked, and feasted on sushi. It was an uplifting time. But the day after, the sky caved in.

“This isn’t working for me. The Internet search didn’t help. I need to be spoon-fed some information here. I’m struggling,” I said in my photography class where I’m putting together a series of basic Photoshop lessons to share with hospital patients, people healing from loss, and parents of teens living with cancer. I was cranky and couldn’t think. Everything was a headache.

“Can we talk in terms of solutions rather than problems?” asked Kathy, the photography instructor. It felt like I’d been hit hard on my head. Right away I recognized my negativity, a trait I dislike and try to stifle.

“Keep coming back to what you love,” she said a short while after. And I almost cried.

So I ‘shopped a picture of my sisters eating decadent desserts. I wrote up a handout sheet to teach a cool Photoshop technique. And then I did what I’ve only allowed myself to do on events like deathdays: I went back to the snapshots of my daughter.

Marika’s hazel eyes always fascinated me. They pouted, “Why can’t we have sushi for dinner two nights in a row?” They sneered, “Way to go mom. You just exposed yourself all over the Internet.” She smiled mischievously when I asked where my chocolates went. She blasted, “Go fall off a mountain” and “Go drown yourself,” and rolled her eyes at almost everything I said. But something in me soared each time she came home.

Kathy’s words followed me home from class and stuck with me the next days as I assured myself I could “come back” to my daughter any time I want. So now I invite all my friends who get stuck listening to a world that tells them to “move on” and “get over” what dies, to “keep coming back to what you love.” It’s like snuggling in a warm quilt for a while. It can bring back sweet energy to propel you forward.

 

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