I'd passed through half my life before I'd recognized them as real people rather than protectors, teachers or taskmasters. That they had lives beyond our connection was lost on me, that they'd been children before they'd had children, that they'd endured struggles, sometimes far more complex than my own, was not even within my sightlines; parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts... all the people that had a hand in raising me were just trinkets on my lifeline charm bracelet.
And then suddenly I thought to
eject from my shell and ask a few poignant questions of a few of my more
silent elders, and a new world opened to me; one of Ellis Island and
six mile walks to one room, two language schoolhouses, of falling in
love and favorite moments and well lived decades of both plenty, and
I scrambled to make up for years lost, I spent as much time
as life allowed, but never was it enough. I wrote, called, visited; I
asked and laughed along and walked beside. The more I learned the more I
wanted, the more intimacies we shared the more I saw these people as my
fascinating collection of absolutely unique friends than as people who
shared my genetics and had some obligation to tolerate my presence.
regret I made my discovery too late as one by one they vanished, death
after death after tragic death until, in what seemed like just the blink
of an eye, they were nearly all gone; and I stood alone, gazing
wistfully at the spaces between my fingers, through which I'd let slip
the sands of my own precious time.