The Day of the Dead, a time to honor those who have come before as well as celebrate their lives. A day to give thanks for the paths the ancestors have paved for us and for loved ones who still walk among us.
This year I think about my grandparents, three of whom have crossed into the beyond without my having had the chance to know them. My paternal grandfather passed on well before I was born of alcoholism related illness. My paternal grandmother lived nearly 2,000 miles and I was only able to see her enough times to count on one hand. She wasn't a phone person and hardly called before she passed on four years ago. My father speaks little of his father, but was fond of his mother who he has told me was a strong willed Irish woman who knew how to raise her kids on her own. My maternal grandfather passed on two years ago, but due to a strained relationship with my mother which she only once explained to me once a very long time ago, I saw him once or twice and hardly ever spoke to him growing up. I remember clearly the last Christmas that he was alive and the last time I saw him; we had gathered at my Aunt's home as we do every year and not only did my grandfather have no idea that I was married, he had no idea who I even was. I was greeted and goodbyed with a handshake and it tugged my heart then and it continues to do so now.
I think about my last remaining grandparent to walk among the living and I give thanks that I have been able to grow up knowing and being loved by her. While my grandmother isn't much for going out or having people over these days, we used to spend a good deal of time together. I know nothing about my grandmother's heritage, as it's been irrelevant to our relationship.
I think of others lost this year, of a friend of 13 years who lost his mother three days after I had moved to South Carolina. He left a tear choked message on my voice mail telling me his mother, whom myself and several friends had thought of as our own for years, had suffered a brain damaging seizure and passed away. I was devastated that I couldn't attend her funeral and shocked when a month later his father followed her across the veil. I think of my friend and give thanks that he has coped better than I believe I could have and is making plans to do things he otherwise may not have been moved to do.
I think of those that have gone beyond, both well loved and unknown and while I don't have photos to place on my small altar, I hold them in my heart...
and gather closure to myself with at least a few. I look at Santa Muerte and her brightly festooned company and she seems to tell me to let go of my sadness and to do those who have gone beyond justice by appreciating the life that flows through me and those that I hold dear.
During our remembrances we must not forget that life is meant to be lived for as Da Vinci said, "As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well used brings happy death."