I Am a Graveyard

It's getting close to the third anniversary of my grandmother's death, and as I do every year, I am beginning to ruminate on it more intensely.

Not just the loss of her from my life, but loss in general, and time. I'm older, as are the people around me. I notice it more in the family members who I've known for decades. But my age — my mortality, my experiences, even my failures — still jut through the skin of my soul, like so much brokenness and wear.

The mirror has become a cruel parlor trick, revealing more than my present. I see dozens of others looking back at me, barely below the surface. I see the me of ten, boundlessly energetic and filled with story. The sullen, gloomy high school student. So many episodes of me have come and gone. They are there, waiting beneath my face, beneath my soul, anchoring me and launching me forward in so many contradictory ways.

I catch echoes of my grandmother in my laugh. I see her in the wrinkles around my eyes. My nose reminds me of a grandfather I never knew, whose absence has been a presence all of its own. I see my daughters and my old age and my grief and joy and pain and celebration. I see it all, and yet only see myself, now, today.

I am who I am today because of who I was before. My steps, so random and irregular in the moment, have lined up to bring me here, now. My face is alive with hope and filled with the bodies of the past. Failures and ideas, loved ones and loneliness. They are all there. They are all me, and I them.

I am a graveyard.