You know that sadness that takes over your whole body and makes your back ache and your throat sore? You know that sadness that makes you want to curl up under your bed covers and ugly cry for the rest of time?
Take all that sadness, ball it up and give it a name.
For me, at one time, it was Daisy Biskind. At another time, it was Sarah Shaw and at another it was Neilda Sussman.
But let me tell you what my grandmother, Daisy, said. She said, “If you can only remember me with tears, then don’t remember me.”
Sometimes that’s a hard thing to do, and she died when I was about six or eight years old. It reminds me of a silly game that my niece and nephew used to play with their friends when they were in high school or college.
There was no board, no score keeping, and no pieces to move or strategy to this game and there was one rule. The rule was that you had to forget the game. The first person to remember that everyone was playing this game lost the game. The honor system meant that they had to just tell the other players, “Oh no! I remembered the game!”
What does death have to do with this game?
The only thing that could possibly tie the two things together is the element of forgetfulness. The game that I described to you can’t really be won. You just survive it by forgetting until another player remembers. Conversely, if you forget the people in your life that are important to you, then you lose something of yourself for every one of those people that you forget, and I want to remember.
I want to remember every time I saw Daisy Biskind wave her can in the air to make a point or flag a taxi. I want to remember every bite of mandlebrot that Sarah Shaw made for us, her grandkids. I want to keep remembering the sound of my Aunt Neilda’s slightly southern drawl and beautifully cultured voice.
It’s even more important to remember that there are still living loved ones all around us and that they need to know that we remember that they’re there. Even if they COULD wait forever for us to finish our work or our video games or net surfing, they probably won’t. You can find an arm’s length of stories on Reddit about people who turned their backs on family members that ignored them for far too long. Later, when those family members came knocking, looking for safe harbor, there was none.