Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

It's become synonymous with BBQs, hasn't it? Here in RI, I'm going to two. One in the city and one at the beach (hoping for a roast pig at that one). But Memorial Day was started after the Civil War to remember those who fought and died. After WWl, it commemorated all who died in all our wars, and it was always on May 30--a date chosen because no battle had ever been fought on May 30. Our love for three day weekends (and BBQs) changed that to that last Monday in May in 1968, not without a lot of dissent. Veterans feared BBQs would diminish the significance of Memorial Day, which over time has come to represent a day to honor not just people we've lost in war, but everyone we've loved and lost. In fact, my grandmother Mama Rose spent every Memorial Day putting flowers on the graves of the people who had died--her parents, her husband, two children--and she used to take me with her. Here's a link to an essay I wrote about cemeteries that recalls this, and more:

This Memorial Day morning I woke with that all too familiar pang of grief. In these thirteen years I've come to recognize it easily. Is it the day itself, created for just such remembering? Or the lovely hazy morning outside my window, the air sweet with lilacs and the sound of so many chirping birds? I climbed out of bed and went downstairs and sat outside with our dog Zuzu, who arrived a white ball of fluff a month before Grace died, her long dreamed of dog now old and blind. I sat there and ached for my funny, smart little girl. Her raspy Tallulah Bankhead voice (so like mine). Her blue eyes behind her wire rimmed glasses. Her encyclopedic knowledge of all things Beatles. 

And the quote by CS Lewis that most captures how these days feel came to me:
Her absence is like the sky; it covers everything. 

I'll drink lots of wine today, eat BBQ of all kinds, stare out at the beautiful ocean. You should too. But let's pause and remember, our lost veterans, our lost hearts.