“People do not die for us immediately, but remain bathed in a sort of aura of
life which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they
continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive. It
is as though they were traveling abroad.”
― Marcel Proust
As a bitter-sweet visit with family comes to an end and we prepare for a return back to ‘normal’ after the trip back home, I find that there is still a certain level of unreality to our visit. Nearly normal activities for our annual vacation here – meals at favorite restaurants, home cooking, a day trip to Savannah, morning swims at the hotel, time spent with family – interspersed with the sadder reality of a memorial service, accepting bequeathed possessions and dividing family heirlooms. And, as Proust observed, sometimes it seems more like my mother-in-law is merely away, and not really gone. But I think it is also true that immortality is achieved through our memories. And just as we know the stories of long-deceased ancestors, our children will remember the stories of theirs, and will share them with their own offspring. And the past lives on, even as we continue to move forward toward our own futures.
“In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien