Chunks of the Past

Sw – iii – iii – sh … th – uuu – nk. What was that? A meteor? A house from Kansas?

Raven and Jet, my feline friends, race me to the living room window to see what made that noise. There it is, near the winter-bare lilac bush. A large chunk of snow has slid off the roof and landed near the porch. A slightly frozen mass, glistening in the late afternoon sun. 

Like the snow sliding from the roof and then melting into the ground, I feel large chunks of my past disappearing. There is no way to prepare for this experience. The empty spaces are difficult to describe. 

Each time I lose a loved one, I feel a chunk of my past slide out of my heart and my present life. Many of those who know me best are no longer around. Those who knew me from birth. From my childhood neighborhood. From high school. From my home. As a poet. As a lover. As a friend. As a daughter, cousin, niece, granddaughter. 

Pieces of me slid away with them. And I find that it’s more difficult to be who I really am, my best self, without them around. They know parts of me that no one else will ever know. They share memories with me that I share with no one else. 

Losing shared memories is a loss of a different color.

Survival? The temptation is to cling to the past ― to the exclusion of the present. To glorify the past and overlook the new treasures of the present. But that’s the danger zone. 

When we cling too tightly to the past, we miss the person we are in the present. We forget to treasure our loved ones who are still here with us. We miss opportunities to appreciate the new people in our lives. We ignore the person we can be in the future. 

My Mom, my sister Barb, and me. West Frankfort, Illinois.

My Mom, my sister Barb, and me. West Frankfort, Illinois.

God has a remedy for this. He calls it faith. I think it started with Noah. When God saved him and his family, God also destroyed everything they knew. They still had one another (and the animals), but everything else familiar was gone. The ark became their home, and their destination was unknown to them. For survival, they had to cling to God’s promises and plan. 

That’s what we must do, too. When everything around us is shifting, changing, disappearing, that’s our time to cling to God and his truth. He is the one constant. He is the one who knows us best. He is the one who never leaves us or forsakes us. 

Our true identity is who we are in God. Our reason for still being here is found in him.

“You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).