Sometimes it seems as if I can draw all the lines of my life up to the day my father died – February 9, 1997. I spent most of my childhood watching it grow larger and larger on the horizon, and the years afterward looking back, waiting for it to disappear. It doesn’t. Whether it’s been two years or nineteen, loss stays with you.
I google his name sometimes – Gordon David Weegar – searching for any little bit of history I don’t already know. He died in 1997, before the internet was a household staple, and so, naturally, my searches for information end with few results. I can’t help but feel frustrated and sad, like there should be some record to the rest of the world of who he was, what he gave up and how he lived despite his sacrifice. There should be pictures and memorials and proof of his existence beyond the fading recollection of my family. It’s crazy to think that my husband has never met my father, and that the kids we might have someday will never know him beyond a face in a photo album.
What frustrates me more than anything are the limitations of my own memory. The voice I can’t quite grasp, despite the number of times we sat at the kitchen table reading, or how often I’d hear it croon along with the radio. The laugh I can’t quite place, despite the number of times I know I must have heard it. And of the memories I do have, which ones are really mine, and which come from stories I’ve heard told and retold a thousand times over the years? I don’t know.
That he’s the reason I first picked up a camera – so that I could arm myself against the fear of forgetting.
The reach of our lives extends so much further than the number of days we lived. Our memories are held my those who knew us best, and loved us most. People who will share our stories, remember the sacrifices we made and see our imprint in all the little pieces of their lives.