Remembrance Day has come and gone, but this year I was reminded of a more personal application to part of the ode we repeat: '...at the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.'
For three decades our family has become pretty good at separation. You never actually get used to it, but you can become really good at managing it: paper chain count-ups; calendars for marking the weeks and then days away; traditions that mark the end of a long separation (ours included a yellow ribbon around the proverbial tree – corny, but effective!)
A few days into one of our earlier separations I had a terrible wake up. At the end of a period of busy days I could not remember when I had last thought of my husband. The thought pulled me up very short. How could I not have thought about him? During these years there was little phone contact, no Internet and long periods without communication. What could I do to ensure this never happened again? It would be so easy to just drift into separateness.
That experience inspired me to compile all the letters we had written to one another before we married. Each night, as I did a little more to complete the collection before his return, I was reminded of our friendship – as I worked I was thinking about him.
Another time I completed a project finishing off part of a renovation so that he had more time to spend with us on his return. The latest separation has me preparing a gift for an upcoming birthday – absences can make surprises so much easier to achieve!
Our most recent lengthy separation saw a stack of mailing boxes as high as the weeks were long. Each box had a different photo of Dad attached to the end. With each package’s posting we placed the photos on a much-passed doorway. Dad’s life unfolded in pictures.
Thoughts are powerful ways to ‘remember them’ even when communication is sparse, as my poem ‘The Last Straw’ expresses, that can even be when they are in the same location!
We remember our dead. How much more important to remember those living. “…at the going down of the sun and in the morning, [I] will remember [him].”