I woke up this morning really missing my aunt, who passed away suddenly in June. I feel like, when I knit (but only with good yarn), I’m talking to her. I think about my childhood in Oregon and California and how much I miss the Pacific Ocean, the Redwoods, the Cascades, and I remember that the last time I was in Oregon, my aunt and my grandmother were still alive. Now, only my dad remains of his siblings, and he’s the oldest. This has really been difficult for him to realize. He thinks it’s a cruel reality. Every morning, he says he still starts to text his sister and then remembers and stops. Sometimes, we’re visiting and we’re laughing about something and I say, “I have to tell Aunt Pat about this,” and then I remember.
If I returned to Oregon now, only my cousin would be left there. When memories are mixed with the present, and everyone in them is alive, they’re rich and sweet. But when the people in them are no longer, it feels a little disorienting to think of going home. I’m not sad, but I will always miss home, which is the West Coast for me, but visiting will bring a different story to life, one that now leans on the third generation of our tribe. That feels strange, but it’s totally natural, too. That’s how life works. None of us is forever and this is why memory is a gift. If I knit this scarf for the winter, and I think about the many excited phone calls with my aunt about spinning and needles and good yarn (because she didn’t do anything cheap), I can hear her and I know she’s happy with my stitches. We commune in the quiet tapping of rosewood and the pulling of wool.