My mother and I are going through old photo albums. There are albums of me that hold pictures of the day I was born, my birthday parties, portraits of me in Halloween costumes and Easter dresses. There are albums of her grandparents, her parents, and her time with my father before I was born.
There are the memories of her life before me and her life with me. Most of the people are dead--my father, her mother, her grandparents, her brother. These are books of the dead, of the lost. These are photos that capture a life that is gone forever.
We cry. What else can we do? We see the faces of the people we loved--that we still love--and all we can do is weep.
Life is loss. It is the gradual accumulation of loss. I tell my mother that I don't know how other people cope so well with it, how they are so resilient when I can barely survive each day. Time doesn't make it easier, it makes it worse. There's more distance between you and those you have lost. The longer you live without them, the harder it is to live at all.
My mother says, "It's like an ache that never goes away." She also says, "The more time that goes by, the more you realize how much you miss them."
It doesn't matter how much time has passed, I still have to live without my father every day. That never changes.