Today, February 24, is the birthday of my mother. She would have been 99 years old had she not left us, the third in sequence of the four parents my wife and I share, some seven years before the last of our parents defiantly gave up her life, a year and a half ago. With all of them gone, we are now alone with our memories.
Grief, as I see it, is the painful process of learning to live with the memories of those who went before us. Everything of the relationship that once existed has all of a sudden become internal, part of our fragile selves. We are the sole guardians of the memories of those who went before us, facing the difficult task of giving those memories new meanings.
At times, memories become closely associated with objects, such as the oil lamp above. My mother used to recall a cherished image of her older brother - dead on his 31st birthday - playing the violin, standing next to that lamp, his head slightly inclined, allowing as much of the light as possible to illuminate the scores from which he was playing. That same lamp now allows me to re-create in my mind images of those precious moments that accompanied my mother's life.