You have your memories to comfort you

This is what my sister said to me after she read the following piece I wrote for a grief class. “You have your memories to comfort you.” I wouldn’t advise saying that to anyone in the early stages of grief. She’s my sister so I didn’t slug her. We have beautiful memories of both our daughters. Some days they comfort us. Some days we remember and find ourselves standing in the middle of the living room sobbing. 

Zoe, Frank, and I had a magnificent tea experience at a restaurant once. It was so magnificent that we kept trying to replicate it. Zoe and I went to a local shop that sells loose leaf tea and we smelled countless canisters of tea, never quite satisfied that we had found the right one. Acting on the advice of the shop owner, we came home with an earl grey and a rose tea to be mixed together until we got it right. Like so many moments in our lives, we never got it quite right.

We went back to the restaurant and discovered it was an Israeli tea that could be ordered from Amazon. We ordered a box of 100 tea bags. Frank ordered four small glass tea mugs so we could really replicate the experience. The only thing missing was sugar cubes to hold in our mouths while we sipped our tea.

We ordered one more box of the tea, then drifted back to old habits. For Christmas this year, my daughters gave me a tea subscription – a tea sampler is delivered every month. It was Zoe’s idea. While she was searching for the perfect tea gift for me for Christmas, she found a new local tea seller for us to try.

The day after Christmas we went there. I bought Zoe some ginger tea – one of her favorites. Now I have an unopened package of ginger tea in my pantry. I have a few things like that – items I bought for Zoe a couple of weeks before she died. Items she’ll never use but now belong to me.

Her dad gave her a nice set of earphones for Christmas. She brought them over to our house and we looked them up online because I wanted some – they were a little pricey for me. After she died I asked her dad if I could have them. The first time I had to charge them I sobbed, realizing that the last time they would have been charged Zoe would have done it.

I am comforted by owning stuff she once owned. Comforted by knowing that she once was a part of me. That her ashes, some of which are now sealed in an antique tea jar, contain my DNA. She joked that we should put her ashes in a coffee can and place it near the TV so she could watch sports with us. We found an antique tea jar instead and placed it on the mantel. She can see the TV just fine from there.

About Lora Brandis

I am a Unitarian Universalist minister, on-call hospital chaplain and INELDA trained death doula. I am also nana/nanny to twins Rose and James - best job I've ever had.
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