Months To Years Winter 2019 Months To Years Winter 2019 - Page 30

just suffering. As folk artist Lori McKenna sings on My father’s laughter when I told funny stories. her album Lorraine: Carole’s delighted gasps when I brought her baked goods. Alison’s crisp, wry way of saying my name. All you really need is someone to be here They were present. They were real. I can recreate Someone who never lets you disappear those sounds in my mind…but it’s not the same. And I will be that witness to your life This may be just a softer place to fall It isn’t enough. But somebody will answer when you call And I will be that witness to your life Sometimes the desire for response extends to a lot more people. I think that’s what social media is I’m lucky: I have plenty of people to call. But after all about: it’s a way to elicit responses to our lives. each death, the person I wanted most to talk to Some people may purely be seeking validation. was the one who was no longer at the other end But for others, perhaps it’s more about sharing of the line. experience. For instance: I often post photos of the baked goods that I make on Instagram. Why? If a Dad, Carole, and Alison were three of my key cake comes out of the oven and there’s no one but witnesses. They rejoiced in my successes, lifted me me to see it, it still exists. If I taste a pie and no one out of sorrows, taught me important lessons. They else does, it’s still delicious. (We hope.) Shouldn’t it gave me comfort and joy and reassurance and be enough for me to enjoy it on my own? laughter, wisdom and tenacity and hope. And they were touchstones—people I could turn to—loving Perhaps. And yet, there is extra joy in connecting and loved people in whom I confided, with whom the experience I’ve had—or the creation I’ve made— I could share every aspect of my life experience. with others. To hear the amused laughter, the Especially, of course, my father—who gave me life surprised gasp, the teasing admonishment, is to and who always brightened it. That loss alone would feel more alive. have been more than enough. It’s been almost a year, but it often feels like yesterday. Perhaps our lives don’t have as much meaning if they’re lived in isolation. Perhaps we’re all seeking “They’re still with you,” people say. And I believe witnesses: people who truly see us, who understand them. Mostly. I’ve had dreams about dead loved us, who assure us we’re on the right track or steer ones since I was a child, and they’re far more like us back to center or just give us their good old- visits than visions. I’ve seen and felt things that fashioned approval. make me wonder about ghosts and divinity and multiple planes of existence. I like to think that, Is it possible to exist without that validation? after we die, we can be anywhere—with anyone we Maybe. But would we want to? want. I used to think my desire for response was related So, if I believe that my three ghosts still see me, can to my being an actor. After all, actors need an they still be my witnesses? audience—and I’m no exception. But I’ve realized that it’s not really about performing, or applause. Yes. But it’s not enough. It’s a little bit about approval—well, okay, a lot. It’s always nice to be told well done, that’s wonderful, Because I don’t simply yearn to be seen. I yearn for you did the right thing. But for me, I think, it’s more people to see me and respond. about connection. Experiences are enriched when 30