A picture of my parents sits on a table in our entry hall among family photos and pictures of our children. I remember the night I took it. I remember as if it was not half a lifetime ago.
I remember the smell of the salty ocean air and the sound of seagulls above crashing waves. I remember the feel of rough planks underneath my bare teenage feet as I stood across from them on the boardwalk. I remember the sunset lighting the sky behind their heads and the warm June air on my arms.
As I stood there, I noticed how beautiful my mom looked standing beneath the safety of my dad’s arms. Her hair had grown in silver and wild, framing her green eyes. They looked so happy.
The sound of waves and the salty ocean air distracted us from the cancer she’d been fighting. In that moment, we forgot the hardness of the fight and the days that were so quickly slipping away. It was sweet and perfect, so I took the camera and asked them to smile for me. Somehow I knew that I would need to remember that night.
As I pass their picture, I wonder what they’d look like now. My dad’s silver hair would likely have turned to white. My mom’s face would be etched with the lines of a life well-lived, the beauty of a gentle, quiet spirit reflected in her eyes.
I close my eyes and try to remember the sound of her voice. I try to remember her arms around me and her heart beating against mine. I try to remember his laughter and husky bedtime lullabies.
I wish I could tell them about the life I’ve made as the years have slipped by. In these years, I’ve grown up, lived new places, traveled and learned, grieved heartbreaks, celebrated joys, fallen in love and had babies, all without them.
I wish I could tell him about the tender hearted man who she prayed for throughout my childhood. I wish I could tell her that he is everything she prayed for and that I am happy.
I wish I could tell them about the children that take after them, the amazing, spirited, emotional, kind, creative, intense, compassionate, energetic children that fill our house with the sounds of life.
I wish they could wrap their arms around the children whose hearts ache for them and wipe away their tears of longing for grandparents they never met.
I wish they could see our little one pick up their picture, hold it tightly to her chest and kiss it, refusing to let it go.
How could this little girl, not even old enough to talk, know these happy, tan faces are someone special? How could these children ache so intensely for someone they never met?
They wish she was here to take them to gardens and museums. They wish he could drive them too fast in his car and take them for ice cream sundaes to ruin their dinner. They wonder what it would be like to curl up next to them and listen to Turah Lurah as they fall asleep.
So we remember them together. We bake cakes on their birthdays and light candles in their honor. We go places they loved. We tend flowers, bake cookies and listen to music. We tell stories and look at picture, and we remember that one day we will see them again.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4