I think about what will happen to my paternal grandparents’ house when they die. I always hated that house, not them, not the experiences that I had in it. Just, the house ITSELF. I hated that no matter how many people you filled it with it always seemed empty, no matter when you went into it it existed on another plane of time and space. Lonely. How it always had a crushing quiet, the quiet of an awkward silence, when you heard that a family member has just died, except it is always, always like that.
My maternal grandparents house was similar, but less so, mostly because the only place that was eerie was the basement (I avoided it like the plague). This house felt more familiar, in a subconscious sense. My Mother’s family was larger than my Father’s, and well, it still is, despite how many that have died, and have made that once familiar house more hollow than before. It was also once filled with family members in picture frames that had died, that I had never met, that even my Mom had never met. When my grandmother died the house began on its downward progression to this hollowness, in fact, that was actually the beginning AND the end, because when my grandfather died, his soul had already left him when the love of his life did, six years before.
When I was working the other day, I had a sudden flash – of lightning bugs and of the humid New England evenings that had seemed to never have an end, in my maternal grandparents’ fenced-in back yard… it was the first time I had thought about these memories, that place, since my grandfather passed away, and it came to me, in a sudden realization, that these nights would never happen again, these dark sunsets playing capture the flag with siblings and with cousins (in the end someone would inevitably get hurt), capturing lightning bugs en masse (because dear God they were everywhere) would exist only in my memory; I could relive them as many times as I wanted to, until I replayed them so much they eventually faded and became forgotten, like the jaded photos of family members on walls, like my Dad’s cassette tapes that he claimed to wear out, like the rotting books and dusty vinyls my grandparents gave me, all of those, existing in my memory or not, with someone watching them or not, would fade, would rust, would tire of being the objects they were, becoming nothing, so that no one would even remember them for what they were.