- Do not stand at my grave and weep;
- I am not there. I do not sleep.
- I am a thousand winds that blow.
- I am the diamond glints on snow.
- I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
- I am the gentle autumn rain.
- When you awaken in the morning’s hush
- I am the swift uplifting rush
- Of quiet birds in circled flight.
- I am the soft stars that shine at night.
- Do not stand at my grave and cry;
- I am not there. I did not die.
- —Mary Elizabeth Frye
It’s still not easy.
I want to pick up the phone and hear your voice.
I want to tell you how the girls love it when, after their bath, I stand them, wrapped in a robe, atop the toilet seat and dry them off, just as you did for me at that age.
I want to send you their drawings, and have you hear their adventures.
I want you to call them “doll”, and promise to send them fudge.
I want to see their faces light up when they get a “Just Because Card” in the mail from you and see two or three dollars flutter to the ground when they open it.
I want to hear you tell Mom and Dad to “be loving.”
I want to say, “Broken-down,” when you ask me how my broken-down brother is.
I want to sit on your couch, nursing the smallest can of ginger-ale I’ve never seen anywhere else but in your house, and have you tell me to look away when the daytime soap stars start doing the “hanky-panky”.
I want to make more memories with you.
I keep your recipe box on my kitchen counter and when I open the lid, I six years old. I am standing in your kitchen, pulling Golden Grahams down from an overcrowded shelf. I am sneaking cellophane wrapped candy out of the walnut shaped candy dish on your coffee-table. I am using your cane as a microphone stand while Donna Summer turns and turns on your record player. I am counting the bottles of perfume on your dresser, wondering if you really use all 17. I am sitting on the arm of the oversized armchair by the rotary phone, snapping open your address book and reading the names and numbers of your friends, our family written in your looping, slanted script. I am taking the dialer out of the address book, holding it like the cigarettes you sneak out on the piazza. I am standing next to you on the back piazza, as you call across the way to Jan, a cousin or some relation, and she marvels at how big I’ve gotten. I am following you down to the basement where your landlady has a beauty shop and I am going to get my hair done; my hair is going to be “flat”. I am bathed and dusted in Jean Naté, lying atop your chenille bedspread, watching the blades of the box fan blur into empty space until I fall asleep.
I want to make more memories, but instead, I choose to share my memories of you with others. I celebrate your sunrise, instead of your sunset. I love you so.
Happy Birthday, Gram.