Disappearing Bit by Bit

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I didn’t really know him very well but his death hit me hard.

Why?

Because, although I wasn’t really a part of his life now, he had been a significant part of mine when I was fifteen. Because, as I get older and as life moves on and changes, I’m coming to realise that there is a decreasing number of people in my life who knew me Before.

Before I bore the name I do now. Before I was seen in the context of my spouse, my children or my occupation. Before my dreams of becoming an author or an astrophysicist became just that. Before sorrow, loss, responsibility and struggle left their scars. Before my life was so defined.

Time is relentless and as it passes bits of who we were disappear. Places we lived, studied, worked, played. People with whom we shared laughter, tears, stories, dreams. The ideals we held for who we thought we’d be.

The tapestry of our life in the past becomes increasingly threadbare as the threads are pulled one by one.

I wrap that tapestry around my shoulders, shelter in it and hold fast to the memories while I can.

In memory of Noel.

 

Parenting Postscript: The title for this post comes courtesy of my 17-year-old youngest son. Sharing our usual “How was your day?” conversation in the car on the way home from school, he asked me if the person whose funeral I had attended was someone close to me. As I explained the connection and why I was so sad, he said “It feels like your past is disappearing bit by bit.” He understood. As a mother of three sons, the responsibility to raise good men falls heavily. It is moments like this that make me feel proud and more than a little relieved that I must be doing something right.

 

32 thoughts on “Disappearing Bit by Bit

  1. Yes. It’s all true: our lives just kind of f-f-f-f-fade away …
    My home – one of the three passions of my life – no longer exists. My school – the entire experience of education spent there – no longer exists. The place of my first job no longer exists – nor of the second one.
    My introduction to working in the entertainment industry no longer exists.
    These are all bricks and mortar; but at 76 there are more holes in the fabric of my contemporaries’ lives than I can recall.
    It happens.
    We live with it – until, of course, we become part of it.
    No despair is needed, H me auld darlin – you have so much left ahead of you.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I may not have met them or you, but I feel sure you are raising beautiful young men. Life is a series of time frames where some people move in and out and different activities have varying levels of importance. We are lucky when we have a few people who remain constant over the years.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What thoughtful comments this is going to elicit Heather. And Carol is so right-I’m sure your young men are beautiful. 💞 You express it so well. The tapestry. I hope I’ve been part of a rich one too. Our kids are that bright star, the future. Live and cherish every moment xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Smart son you have there. I agree with you and have come to realize that one day for me there will be no tapestry of the past– all the threads will be gone. I don’t know how I feel about that. Will it be depressing or liberating? No answer, but that’s what I wonder.

    Liked by 3 people

    • He’s a child who frustrates the hell out of me in terms of his schooling but I know he’s going to make one hell of a thoughtful and sensitive adult.
      At this stage I’ll admit I’m freaked out at the vanishing threads but maybe one day I’ll be able to find it liberating.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. This is exactly why I’ve made an effort to reconnect with my cousins since mom passed away. They were part of the younger, pre-married life…the life that now seems so distant. Perhaps because it’s been over 40 years? I have tried keeping in touch with high school friends and people I knew then, but it’s difficult. We all go on our own journeys and live in different cities. The key is to stay in touch with those you can while making a new “past,” with people you’ll know 10 or 20 years from now. I’m sorry about Noel and feeling sad for time past, but happy that you have a wonderful life now with your family and friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t actually have contact with extended family (long story) so I envy you your cousins. Perhaps it’s why I feel the loss of others from my past so much.
      I like your comment about the new “past”. Last night, after the funeral, I made contact with a few friends I hadn’t been in touch with for ages. One rang me straight away and we had a long chat and another group I’m having dinner with next week. I did feel I needed to try and hang onto those I have now so I don’t find myself completely bereft in 10 years’ time.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The loss of people who knew me ‘before’ somehow hits me harder than those I met later. They are almost like family in a way, even if we’ve lost contact over the years. Perhaps it is because they got to know the ‘core me’ before I was cloaked in all the layers I’ve donned with age. Your postscript made me weepy.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m glad that in your sadness you have reached and found connections to other parts of the tapestry. I know you’ll keep weaving.

    I understand the “raising good men” pressure and anxiety; I’m currently in a “where did I go wrong” moment of what I hope is just a phase.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You said it so eloquently, Heather. I went to a small school in a small town and yet I’ve said good-bye to a shocking number of friends already … and I wonder where the time went.
    Your son sounds wise beyond his years ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry you’ve suffered such loss, Joanne. It’s hard to reconcile the passing of so many years with the feeling we are still young.
      The youngest does seem to live in another world sometimes. It has its benefits. But it’s hard to see them when you’re trying to get him to school on time…

      Like

      • It seems you and I have a similar version of the same son.

        Sometimes we just want to know it’s all going to be ok in the end. If it helps in any way, my version of ‘that’ son is now 31 and I couldn’t be more proud of him.
        For all the anguish and teeth gnashing that occurred during his school years (whatever will become of this scatterbrained child?!!) he has developed into this wonderful man – kind, hardworking, thoughtful, independent, successful in his chosen field.
        Somehow they absorb the lessons we are trying to teach them when they are young … even when we’re convinced they aren’t ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  9. With each passing, I stop and re-focus. Sometimes, the last person who knew us during one ‘era’ passes and it goes feel like we’re fading away. For all the reasons you mention, I’m sorry for the loss of your friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Dan. At the moment, I think it feels like as each of those parts of my life fades away, I become more narrowly defined by those left in my life and that makes me sad. Who will remember the days when I was a very good fencer and hockey player or when I used to quote whole Goon Show scripts or my Brideshead phase when I carried around a teddy bear for a year?

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Heather firstly I send my heartfelt sympathy at the passing of Noel. Your son sounds like a sensitive and caring soul. Congratulations on raising such an intuitive and gentle young man.
    Dave and I have been talking quite regularly about how life is in a changing chapter. As friends become ill or pass away we seem to be spending more time in hospitals, hospices and funeral homes than we ever had thought we might. The reality of it all has us seizing each day with a firmer grip.
    Hugs across the miles. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • So sorry, Sue! I thought I’d replied to this but I must have composed the answer in my head and then didn’t actually type it! Thanks for your lovely comments and condolences. I can imagine that we all at some point reach a point in life where loss becomes more frequent and holding on to who we have been is increasingly challenging. Peace and strength to you both as you navigate this stage of life.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I feel like post so deep in my heart. I moved away from my hometown well over 10 years ago. With time, relationships with older people from my childhood have become practically non-existent because we are no longer apart of each other’s every day. As they are beginning to pass away, the mourning feels… odd… different… appropriated from another time and another person who had that relationship all those years ago. It’s a sad feeling. I hate it. Thank you for putting my thoughts into words.

    Liked by 1 person

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