I never quite bought into the concept that those that have passed “live on” in our hearts. It never made sense that authors of print or music would be forever present in this world because of the stories or music they created before they died. And it never seemed much solace to me when well meaning people would say things like, “You have a lot of great memories”. Most of my concerns deal with the fact that I know by experience, that while everyone recommends we learn from the past, the “now” is all there is.
As to those living on in our hearts, there tends to be less room and time in our hearts these days. In the case of my mother, it was easy to carve out time in my week to drive with her to go shopping and have lunch or stop by and talk. There was real communion. There was a real hug. There was real conversation. I could get her a Sonic Slush and she could ask about the family and work. Yes, as for those living on in our hearts, if it is the truth, it is not the same, and quite frankly, does me little good.
I do not study the lives of musicians much and I certainly do not plan my life around the songs or commentary of celebrities. For some reason, however, the sudden death of Tom Petty floored me a little this year. I had the general impression that he was a good guy and yes, even the good guys die, but perhaps it was that his albums and songs have accompanied my adult life in some form or another. Michelle and I have very different tastes in music, but we could always agree on Tom Petty. Do I think he is still in the world because of his recorded works? I do not.
I have always been suspicious of memories. The first thing a memory might do is take me back to a time in the past in order to escape the possibility and demands of the future. That always made me nervous. The second thing about a memory that causes me to pause is that because they are memories, they most likely are corrupted by my ability to remember them. I have told the same story before to myself and others for thirty years only to find out the characters present in my story thirty years ago claim they were in other cities at the time.
My heart is too full to individually house those that have passed and I would rather share an embrace with my mother than have her dwell there. While I still listen to Tom Petty’s music with the same wonder, awe, and appreciation, he does not have the ability to make more. And memories seem only to be a trick for my mind to drift into another space. With all that said, there for me is hope.
My Teacher once told me the Kingdom of God is now. He also told me to love others. He told me to ask and I would receive. If I believe anything, it is this. Those that have left us, pass into what I call “another town in the Kingdom”. They may not be in this city, but they are still in God and in His kingdom. And because all in the kingdom is in God, and God in it, my mother, Tom Petty, my grandparents, and even Gandhi (for those who are concerned about the list of who I might think enters the gates of heaven), are with us all when we are with the Creator. So my heart is open for God, my ears are open for music, and my memories can inform and teach me how to exist in the present.
These things are of some comfort to me. May they be of some comfort to you.