“Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.”  Kevin Arnold

I’ve been thinking a lot about family lately. About how we communicate, how time escapes us, and how memories keep loved ones near. I’ve especially been thinking about my grandparents. I had a dream about my grandpa (Papa as we called him) the other night. It was one of those strangely real, vivid dreams that stay with you, even after you wake up. True to life, in my dream Papa had been gone for many years, but he’d left something for me. Something he wanted someone to give me. I didn’t know what the something was, but was excited about the gift, sure that it would hold some sort of special meaning or message. Boy was I disappointed. A dried sprig of herbs wasn’t exactly what I had in mind – dreams are strange creatures!

The dream left an impression on me though. It filled me with a sort of desperation to be near Papa again, to hear his voice and his life-filled laughter. And it made me think how nice it would be, if those who are gone from our lives could go on speaking to us, even after they are gone.

I was reminded of a home video my parents took of my brother and me when we were little. Papa is in the video, sitting on a bench at a park. I’m scooting closer to him, and my brother is toddling just at his side. My grandma comes into the picture and picks up my brother. Everyone is smiling. The audio is fuzzy and the picture quality isn’t that great, but you can hear my grandpa’s laugh – his big life laugh, as he takes me on his knee. We all look so happy.

The first time I saw this video, it filled me with an understanding I’d never had before. I’d always known how much my grandparents meant to me, but I’d never considered how much I meant to them. Of course I knew they loved me, but I’d never really thought about how much they loved being grandparents. Their joy was captured perfectly in the video; you can see it in their faces, hear it in their laughter. They loved my brother and me so much! It made me feel incredibly proud to have known them and to have had a part in their lives.

Remembering this video, I thought about how my life has been so deeply shaped by those who loved me and are now gone from my life. There is a comfort in knowing not only that you’ve loved, but been loved. Maybe this is the gift after all, the message I was searching for. Memories often remind us of what we are missing, but they should also remind us of the love that made that person memorable. How that love remains and grows in us, through our expressions, our passions, our beliefs, even sometimes our physical traits. How the ones we miss continue to speak, because they are a part of us – something that will always be. And we are a part of them, continuing their story, shaping it into our own.