Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What Doesn't Heal

"Oh in 1936 I had many dreams. It was the depression, and it was very hard for young people to get their lives started, but we did get married and we finally got jobs and we were happy. But soon after that, in 1939, Herman got diagnosed with acute Leukemia. . . I couldn't imagine how I was going to live in a world that didn't have him in it, but life has a way of demanding you live it. . ."

"What are your hopes for me, after you're gone?"

"I hope that you are going to find somebody that you can love as completely as I loved Herman, because there is nothing in the world that's as wonderful as two people in love, there's nothing better."

Today in my oral histories class I realized how weak the fabric with which I am woven is. I sat and listened to a recording of 91 year old Nora Percival tell her granddaughter, Emily, about her short marriage to Emily's grandfather, who died when his pregnant wife was only 24. He never met his son. As I sat in class holding back my tears with all I had, all I could think was "they sure don't make them like they used to," myself being the them. My life has struggles, but nothing like what my great-grandparents endured. My heart is broken, but nothing more than what countless others have felt. The clouds are dark and the rain is cruel, but far worse storms have passed over far more innocent hearts! And yet I am ready to surrender now, quit before life hurts me anymore.

As I listened to Nora's voice, I could hear the many years of struggles and hardships in her weathered tone, but there was a softness as well. She spoke of Herman like it was only yesterday that she was lying with her dying husband, saying goodbye. The tenderness with which she spoke of him made me realize how long we carry these things with us, that some things don't heal like we like to believe.

When I got to my car I cried. I cried because life is so hard, so confusing, and the light so far in the distance. I cried because Nora was so strong, and that strength seems so far from my grasp. I hope I'm wrong, I hope that they do make them like they use to, and that one day I will have a full life to look back on, and that my voice carries in it all the strength and pain that Nora's did.

I really suggest you listen to Nora's interview, you can listen to it here: http://www.storycorps.net/listen

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