As the end of December nears we’re busy scrambling to end what was, and eagerly looking forward to what (we hope) will be in the new year, we also stop to fondly remember days of auld lang syne, or “times long past”. Auld lang syne is the fond remembrance of those meaningful times we’ve had, and times we quite possibly yearn for still. This year’s-end anthem has always made me particularly melancholy. I doubt I’m the only one. As we move forward and turn away from the old and toward the new, it’s also only natural to want to keep something of your experience with you to carry over into the what will soon be.
In some ways these lyrics also feel like a warning, or at least a cautionary tale:
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and days of auld lang syne”.
Should we get so wrapped up in impending change that we forget what was the past? The song implores us not to forget what was because before you know it you’ll be looking back wishing for it once again. And by this point you’ll have most likely moved so far away from it that you realize it has slipped through your fingers long ago. The caveat here, of course is that we can also become so consumed with the past that we have just as much difficulty looking forward as others do looking back.
Things change. The world changes. You change. And nothing can stop it. Sometimes you don’t recognize the changes reflecting back at you in the mirror until you look back at an old photograph and pick out the comparative differences. And then again, sometimes you’re painfully all-to aware of the changes you’ve experienced in your life.
Photographs in my life from three, four, five years ago and more show a smiling family of four. Photographs today are sometimes painful examples of how one of these family members, who now exists only in a memory, is most often represented by a picture in a picture (as in this blog’s header itself). Auld lang syne.
Everyone seems to be forward focused this time of year, making resolutions about their new year and they new them they want to be. I sit here year after year, and try to figure out how, as another page turns on the calendar of life to keep my daughter’s memory alive…again.
Everyone else is changing around us. Their children are growing, their families are growing, their lives are shifting. We’re stuck in our own stalemate, and in some ways we always will be. Those who’ve experienced the loss of a close loved one often tend to group their own lives into two categories: before and after they died. I want to share stories, and pictures, even anecdotes of my daughter with you when you share with me or in a group in general, but I know you’ve already heard them, seen them, know how they go. I’m sorry. They’re all I have. They’re all I’ll ever have. As time keeps ticking away I’m perpetually faced with a new year, and same dead daughter who will always be three years old to me.
A new year, Miss Elliott, but you’ll always still be the same you.
I still want to speak her name and share her life the way you share the lives of your children. I don’t want you to pity me. And I don’t want to make you uncomfortable either, but please speak her name to me. You won’t upset me, I promise. I didn’t forget that she died. I just want, most of all, to know that you remember she existed in the first place. It helps me stay in the present by reassuring me that it’s ok to keep moving forward, all while yearning for the days of auld lang syne.
So speak her name unto my ears and let the music of her spirit flood my heart and soul.