The summer went too fast this year. I am not ready for it to be over. I haven't gone to Sis. Morgan's house and walked out onto the patio. I have not sat by the river, or floated in the canoe. The summer got away from me. And now I can't get it back.

I went up to Rexburg today to take a test. Everyone was gone, obviously. The semester is over, the campus is dead. I walked around the campus after my test was over, trying to recall how happy I was here. Even with all the stresses. But a funny thing happened. I couldn't. I could not bring up the happiness that I once felt. There was memory, yes, happy ones too. But I could not make myself feel happy just by being in Rexburg. I walked down to Porter Park and gazed up at the Birch trees. I went into the library, past the pickle smell on the first floor, and up to the Writing Center. So many happy memories. But instead of feeling happy about being there, I felt pain. I don't belong there anymore. There is nothing left for me in here.

I wonder if that is what my grandma is feeling about life. She has been dying inch by inch for months. And I wonder if she feels as if there is nothing left for her here. She seems as if she is ready to die. She wants me to have all her clothes she says. Every time we go to her home that is what she says. She wants me to have her clothes. She did recognize us today, but she tells me that. She has hot pink pansies planted in the front of the house. But she wants me to have her clothes.

I don't know how I will feel when she dies. I don't know if I will feel sad. She's my grandma by title, but I'm not really sure what our relationship really is, or ever was. My heart goes past her and into the basement of her home where my uncle spends most of his time. He doesn't realize what is happening. He does not know what will happen. This is the woman that raised him, and where does that leave him? He is a 13 year old boy in a 46 year old body. He has limited understanding and ability to take care of himself. His father does not care for him. His only friend, advocate, and companion has been his mother--my grandmother. What will happen when she is gone?
He sits in the basement with a jar full of pennies and he counts them. He counts them one by one and writes the numbers in a spiral bound notebook while he sits on the floor. He pours them out and ca-plink ca-plinks them back into the jar. I have never seen him get all the way through an entire jar of pennies. I'm not sure what will happen if he does. What will happen if he counts all the pennies? And really the answer is simple. There will be no more pennies to count.


Emily Poteet said...


I knew this was you. Your voice is so strong. This post is beautiful. I can see every image.

iBo said...

Wow Julie. I don't know what to say. That was thought provoking.

While sitting on a bus in between here and there I realised that we are always in conflict with memories, that there is always tension there regardless of if they are good or bad. There is the good memory that wants to be relived but can't, and there's the bad that doesn't want to be recycled but is. Both are bittersweet. To me both are not satisfying.

Maybe part of that pain is the emptiness of memories and how intangible and unreal they all are. To me they aren't part of life. They exist in some cloud that floats around my head and tells me that somehow whatever I went through evaporated from the real the here and now into what? A memory? What is that?

A memory can't bring up the happiness we feel in the here and now--not without bringing a sense of wistfulness with it, or pain.

I guess you could say if we don't enjoy the moment, we sure as heck won't appreciate the memory.

I don't know.

Jami said...

I agree with EmPo. Your voice is strong and the images powerful. Most of all, though, is the complete honesty. Sister Morgan would be proud.

Sky said...

Nice writing, Julie. I had read it before as a draft (sorry), and was wondering when you would post. You revised and added great stuff to the original. I can even feel the cold and damp of that basement.
As far as memories go, I'm going to post from my other blog, probably not one of your favorites, but memories can be like little golden picture cards we take out to light up the darker rooms.
One of my favorite memories is of Shalese bringing you and your guitar in to my office after seminar one night. You were so nervous, and Shalese was so nervous over you being nervous that I don't think you noticed the puzzled look on my face. Then, as Shalese helped you fix the guitar strap, she flipped out "this-is-your-birthday-present" over her shoulder. And you two sang, "Leaving on a Jet Plane." I must have still looked intensely puzzled in the following silence, because you popped up, "It's the only song I know how to play on the guitar." My stomach hurt so much from holding in all the laughing, yet I was almost in tears. Ah, thinking of it now makes me laugh out loud again. Truly a great moment.

Matthew R. Hall, Esq. said...

Tonight, I was standing on Huntington Beach and looking out into the dark waves. The familiar pier, dotted with green fuzzy lights through the haze, told me that I knew this place. The fine sand stuck to my ankles, the yellow streetlamps and sweet moving waves-- this should be home, but it's not. LA is where I spend my breaks and visit my family, but I don't have a home anymore.

This comment echoes my earlier post, but it's the same with Grandma. I was thinking today, It's not that she's dead to me, because I'm still here helping her outside so she can walk laps around the pool and wear those giant old people dark plastic sunglasses. What hurts the most is that it's gone forever and it's never coming back and all we can do is lie to Grandma when she asks and tell her that it's okay you just have to look on the bright side and you'll be able to garden and walk and someday do all of those things you say you miss.