Last night as I was nursing Persphone to sleep I was trying to figure out how old she is and I realized that she is today exactly the same age to the day as I was the day my baby sister, Leigh Ann, was born.
There are stories parents tell about their children-mostly funny but always endearing. Moments in time forever preserved in their memories more precious that gold. The day my dad took me up to the hospital to see my mom and meet my baby sister was one of those golden, cherished moments. Like Persephone I was a bright, friendly, and precocious baby. I had just begun proudly telling everyone that I was two and three quarters years old but my dad instructed me to tell the nurses that I was three if they ask because the hospital rules wouldn’t allow me in to visit if I was not yet three. When we got there my dad told the nurses that I was three when they asked but I could not stand the lie and I informed them that I was in fact two and three quarters years old. I was so insistent upon this fact that the nurses were all laughing uncontrollably, fell in love with me, and happily sent me in to my mother and new baby sister.
This story was so important to them and, though I can tell this story to anyone who will listen, this story mostly died with them. When they told it in the years between my sister’s death and theirs it somehow kept a little piece of her alive for me.
I remember the day they brought her home. My dad left me with the neighbors across the street when he went up to the hospital to pick them up. The two neighbor girls and I were jumping on their parents’ waterbed most of the time but headed toward the front window to watch for them at some point. When I saw the car drive up I went running to them and my mom always said she thought I was excited to see her but I headed straight to Leigh Ann and my mom was a bit crushed. That moment is possibly my earliest memory and it is a perfect one. I’m telling you this story now but it is not the same as it once was.
Stories and memories have great power but even if they are passed along they die with the people in who’s hearts the stories live. Those memories become ghosts and these are the ghosts with whom I live.