How do you keep someone from becoming a ghost?
Write things down. Make the memories more concrete. Life is transient in more ways than we imagine. You take things for granted. You imagine certain people and things as part of your life forever. However we don’t realize we are creatures who live with an ever-present sense of amnesia. We forget that people can leave. Things can fall apart. You can visit a place for the last time and not even realize it.
It’s a double-edged sword. Really. This transience. On the one hand, it brings sorrow and decay, distance and forgetfulness. But on the other hand, if we didn’t have a sense of the impermanence of things, would we ever appreciate them? Would the golden moments feel golden if we never knew the dark times? Would we understand the value of someone’s love without the knowledge that it could be lost to death or neglect?
And how do we keep someone we’ve lost from becoming just a ghost in the folds of our mind? Could I, as a writer, keep the blood flowing in all of those little moments by writing them down? So that a foggy hike up a West Virginian mountain isn’t lost to the mist of memory. Or an every day walk on a warm autumn night doesn’t become just some fuzzy impression.
But how do you hug words? Or hold their hand?
You can say to a page, “I miss you,” but a page doesn’t have ears.
You can write out, “I love you,” but a page doesn’t have a soul.
You can sit and wait for the reply, but you will find that you’re talking to yourself.
© 2022 Katie Baker