Tag Archives: what lasts forever

Duetting: Memoir 7

Duetting: Memoir 7  Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a tattoo onto a photo of the face of her daughter who died.The young friends, at their own celebration of Marika’s life directly following the memorial, mull around in tight groups. They touch the photos and memorabilia. They hug and hold each other. Several had gotten tattoos to honor Marika. Images and words etched onto arms and ankles, pigment mixed with blood. Some small part of Marika could be carried forever.

As soon as she was old enough to forego parental blessings, Marika got a cookie-sized Celtic knot tattooed onto her stomach. I’d always questioned my children, “What could you possibly put on your body that you’d want to have there the rest of your life?” Horrified by the idea, I would confront them using the word ‘permanent’ as if a tattoo was a perpetual stain on one’s presence. Not that anything, loved or loathed, could ever be permanent.

In May, two months after Marika’s death, for her birthday, I had her name tattooed on my left shoulder in Celtic letters. Greg, who’d already had a good deal of himself inked with warriors and skulls in homage to his fallen army friends, added a part of Marika’s Celtic knot to his haunting skin-story. Rachel got a Marika tattoo. And Kim. Then Taylor. And Julie. Even Laurie flew to Ithaca to get one from our now almost-family tattoo artist. The thought of our hearts and bodies indelibly etched with Marika was suddenly comforting. Bereaved mothers, other than wanting their beloved children back, want nothing more than to have their child remembered. So I loved those tattooed friends.

But at the end of June, one of Marika’s friends is found dead from an overdose. Several are heavily into drugs and alcohol. Marika had fought for each summer and for every breath in the end. Even though I know addiction is not a choice, I want to grab hold of her friends’ necks and shake them.
“This is it! This is your only life. It’s a time-limited offer. Non-refundable. It is a gift,” I want to shout. “How the hell do you get to throw it away?” I think of the parents, because to lose a child is to lose the center of your world. It is to lose your light and breath. “Look at me,” I wish I could say, “It’s June and I’m still frozen mud in midwinter. Like concrete. I died too. Would you do this to your parents?”

And then there are Marika’s words. Words I can’t ignore now that I’ve found them. She wrote this before she even knew she had cancer. Before there was any doubt of her not living a long full life. What am I supposed to do with these words? They scream to me:

“My words will hopefully live on long after I am gone. That is how I want to live. Forever. Words are immortal.”

Time When You’re Healing

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photographs a clock that ran out of time.My head is dizzy with memories of times that don’t exist anymore. Times and places and people. Some of my friends say I spend too much time looking back into the past. It wasn’t always that way. I can remember wishing time away, willing it to fast-forward into the future. That was long ago. These days, it feels like every year that passes carries me ever farther from the times spent with my daughter who died. Far from the days I was happy, and strong, and oblivious to what time could bring.

The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dali’s famous surrealistic painting of melting clocks, is said to depict the erratic passage of time. Persistence? Not MY memory. Memories fade, they change. Nothing lasts. But maybe time does. Erratically.

This thing called time is a sneaky thing. It drags on and on sometimes, or flies by in a blink. It silently accumulates until one day you are dumbstruck wondering where it went, and how you got to be so old and worn out. Without even knowing, you can run out of time. A valuable, irreplaceable commodity, time is a most precious gift. If someone simply shows up and devotes an hour or so of their time to you, how can you not love them?

Despite what some folks say, I’ve learned time does not heal ALL wounds. And there’s no making up for lost time. You can’t kill time, or stop it or buy it, really.

Time, when you’re healing, is life. How we spend our time is how we spend our lives. And whether or not I am here on this earth, whether or not you are here, time continues to move ever forward. Without us. That’s the scariest part.

All this flooded my mind last week when, on a field trip to an abandoned industrial complex with my photography class, I came upon a clock hanging almost upside-down, suspended at 8:04 on some unknown day when its time ran out.


Is time timeless? What lasts forever?