On my daughter Alicia's 40th birthday this past July, I received a wonderful gift.
A friend of hers from H.S. found the MySpace page I created in memory of my daughter and contacted me. Marlene sent photos and shared with me tales of a dear friend whom she liked and cared about. Any shred of evidence that she existed...any memory of her is so cherished, as I have far too few of my own.
Now, a week after my birthday I received a belated gift: a friend of Alicia's from college found me the same way and is sharing her remembrances.
Her college friend, Sandra, has shared happy accounts of laughter shared about "jerks" they dated...as well as Alicia's darker times when she withdrew in depression. Each email is a tiny piece of the puzzle. I am learning about Alicia like the blind men learned about the elephant: each describing the unique part that presented itself to them, but none comprehending the whole.
Each friend in turn helps me track down more friends...each of whom loved my precious daughter, who some recall having a loving family and others tell me had a troubled relationship with her adoptive mother. All pieces of the puzzle and part of the elephant.
Alicia was an artist. I have never seen any of her artwork, but I am acquiring glimpses, brush strokes, colors and they vary and go through stages like the work of all artists.
I am most grateful and appreciative of these gifts. What words are there? How does one describe bringing a ghost a life? Is learning -- not of one ancestors but of a decedent -- "genealogy"? It is for me the repair of a limb broken from my family tree, perhaps then it is...human horticulture.
Alicia speaks to me through these friends. Each story shared with me brings a living leaf to my tree and I am joyful.