We start out making relationships. From the second we enter the world, that seems to be our goal - to make connections, to be linked with others. Our personal history, as well as the our history on this earth, is a story of links. One person linking with another, and another, and another. Which brings me to a conclusion that I have been pondering for months now.
Does one every really 'leave' anywhere or anybody? Oh sure, you may leave physically, and perhaps those left behind want you to leave, but it's the history that will continue to speak. I have a habit of calling them ghosts, but the fact remains that our memories of time shared are strong, lasting and can be so vivid that it startles you by washing over your senses once again. Somehow, suddenly, all your senses are reset back to that very moment in time, and for a split second you are there, with those...ghosts...once again.
My conclusion? We are all inextricably linked; forever a part of the personal histories of others. My first husband and I will always be linked. No, I haven't seen him in two decades, but he still lives on in my memory as if it were yesterday. And my first job as a 'box boy' at my local grocery store - all those people are part of me somehow. I will be forever linked with those that worked with me, and if I were to enter that grocery store today, some of those same people (who are still there, by the way!) would be a part of who I am; as if they in some way shaped my experience and existence. And how 'bout that former congregation of mine? Much to the chagrin of some, they can in no way expunge my part in the shaping of it's history. I will forever be remembered as part of their story, and they are a huge part of mine.
It is an interesting phenomenon my friend and I were discussing just yesterday, in fact. The time you invest with others, even though now parted, will always remain. History cannot be rewritten, and in everyone's mind (whether they admit it or not) there are shared memories, laughter, tears...experience. Life. History.
This thought is brought into sharp focus for me now, especially as I embark on documenting my family history. Smiling faces looking with now empty eyes grace the 'leaves' on a family tree. A name, an old photo, a couple of dates, sketchy bits of information - all these are linked, somehow, with me. They didn't know it, but I do as I dig further and further into history. Our shared history. Their history is now my history, and my history will someday be someone's that I don't even know...couldn't know since they haven't been born yet.
Something else worth considering is how our memories are preserved in our minds. I don't know about you, but in my mind the not-so-pleasant memories are somehow relegated to the shadows, the corners that are dusty and forgotten. Maybe I'm a bit of a Pollyanna, but what comes to memory most is the good times - the times I remember fondly. It would seem that I have this knack for forgetting the hurtful things so much that I leave myself open to getting hurt in the same way all over again. Interesting how the mind and the memory work. In the land of my memories, the ghosts are accepting and trustworthy. Moreover, they still care about me, which may or may not be an accurate picture of reality. Perhaps my 'happy little bubble' of memories is a way of coping with the scars of the past, my avoidance of continued pain.
If you are like me, those souls that have been a part of your life in any way that has been significant will always be a part of you, and you will always be a part of them. And even today, as I attempt to re-establish a broken connection from years ago, I live with so many ghosts just the same as when we spent time together enjoying each other's company. Further, don't even entertain the idea that if I heard through the grapevine that one of those souls was in need or crisis that I wouldn't leap the span of years and absence to be present and available. Take it for what it's worth, but those connections never truly die.
Not for me, anyway.
We are all inextricably linked. Somehow, I think it's supposed to be that way.