Thursday, May 29, 2008

Memorial Day

I had a good Memorial Day, spent it with the offspring. I'm finding it a bit confusing to talk about my children now that all of them are older than my ex and I when we had the first child. It seems wrong to call them "my kids" or "my children" as they are certainly not "kids" anymore. They are a lot more than that now. They are not really "mine" anymore. But they'll always be mine, anyway.
We did some family things—one daughter and my son and I went to see "Indiana Jones" on Sunday and enjoyed it (while recognizing it's not high art) and my eldest daughter joined us for a picnic in Prospect Park in Brooklyn on Memorial day. My three "kids" and the dog and me. It was lovely.
We didn't talk about the departed. We were into being together, alive. But I thought of those who were gone later on. Mom, Dad, my brothers who were in WWII and my older sister. Also a close friend. I don't feel a desire to make a special commemoration on one day of the year because I remember these people at least once every day throughout the year. But I do understand why people feel that a day like this is important, especially if there is a loved one lost in war. I don't have one of those, thank God, so it's just not that important to me. I'm far away from the burial grounds of my deceased family. I don't think I could find some of those graves without help. I'm not proud of this, but not embarrassed either. Mortal remains don't mean much to me. I respect the shells we leave behind because it is a way to respect the persons who filled those shells. But that's it. A bit of flesh in a box in the ground is not important. The actions the results of those actions and the memories and feelings one leaves behind are.

Still there are rows and rows of graves in Arlington and France and Belgium for those who fought and died in two world wars. There is a poignance in seeing or thinking of these because so many died young and often so needlessly. There are empty spaces in the world for those who lost loved ones in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. And other places. And I'm just talking about Americans here. Grief is universal. It's one of the givens of life, along with birth, death and yes, joy. I hope everyone who remembers a lost loved one on Memorial Day remembers some joy from the presence of that one in her/his life.
And, while doing that, remembers to enjoy the presence of the loved living in his or her own life.

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