The lid from an old tattered shoe box is lifted open and with it come many memories. Memories of days gone by or of people long since forgotten. It is a time of joy, of sorrow, of happiness and sometimes even embarrassment. Some of the memories are beginning to yellow, some are curled. Some look as if they have only been there for several days.
"Who is that?" "Where is that?" "How old were you?" Questions asked, often unable to be answered then, upon further examination, the answer is discovered.
These memories are found in our family as they are in yours. They are a timeline of oneís life, or of a familyís existence. They cannot be erased through time, nor can they be relived. They tell a story, yet to everybody, the story is different.
There is a time, however, when these memories stopped. The stoppage was noticeable, for there is a time when no memories were to be found. It was as if time stood still.
"What happened?" "Where did they go?" are the questions, yet the family knows the answer. The answer is a painful reminder of just how precious and fragile human life is.
Growing up, we are told that putting off until tomorrow what we can do today is not the best thing to do, yet we never listen. Why should we? Afterall, tomorrow has always been there and it always will.
Today, there are arguments, mischievous acts and misbehavior, all done because we know that tomorrow will come. It will be a new day with a chance to forget about yesterday. We will have a fresh start. We can make new promises, show new smiles and maybe get a fresh hug or sneak a kiss or two.
Nothing changes, yet when a change does occur, life suddenly becomes more complicated. I was three when a change occurred in my life. Too young to comprehend what it all meant, yet old enough to remember certain things. One certain thing.
To some, it is small and insignificant but to me, it is clear as if it happened yesterday. It was a smile. One small, ordinary everyday smile. Her smile. Then there was nothing else.
Was there going to be something else? A sentence? A phrase? Maybe an order?
No, nothing. There was nothing else. Is this it? Is this all there is to life? Is this how life was supposed to end? I never had the chance to know her, to tell her that I loved her. I never was able to say good-bye.
"What did she sound like when she laughed?" "Was she nice?" "How loving was she?" I have more questions, many more, but they will never be able to be answered.
I felt cheated. I felt anger at my older brother and sisters because they had the chance to know her. They were able to be kissed, to be loved. They had the chance to rebel and fight with her.
Looking at it now, Iím sure that they had no thoughts of tomorrow not coming and Iím sure that if they could do it over again, they, too, would do it differently. There will, however, never be that opportunity. We cannot go backwards in time, only forward.
As the boxful of pictures lay sprawled across the kitchen table on that Christmas Day, there was definitely a time lapse. This occurred when Mom died and it was there, at this point, that all the pictures stopped.
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