When I was a little girl, the day after Halloween marked a day when I would slide into a pew at St. Mary's Church in Biddeford and pray for people I did not know. All Soul's Day. The list went back by generations-family that remained nameless. "I pray for my grandmother's mother, my grandmother's father, my grandmother's grandmother," I mouthed. It didn't feel real. Just an obligation. Never did I realize at seven years old that I would one day be praying for the souls of my grandmother, my grandfather, my mother, my father, my aunts and my uncles.
"I can't be here. I can't," I managed to whisper breathlessly. "I can't breathe. An elephant is on my chest. I can't do it." Closing my eyes, I remained motionless. My body heavy and incapable of supporting my own weight in a seated position, never mind move to another room or the hall where I could forget.
"If you leave. You can never take this moment back," my sister confided. Choking back tears, I thought about how I had left my father a few days ago. This time I stayed. I needed to be here for my father. Through this transition.
Today my "All Soul's List" is just as long as when I was seven years old, but now I can remember how my father's bearded cheek scratched against my face when he snatched a kiss. I remember the oversized hand that reached out to walk me safely across the road. Old Spice after shave brings a flood of real memories. My heart aches in longing for one more moment.