A Letter to The Ones Who Came Before

Dear ancestors,

I do not know your names. Your history is lost to me. An entire generation of forced silence beget a generation of grieving ignorance that beget generations of familial orphans. We are lost to each other. You will never know my smile, I will never know your laugh. Did you enjoy mangos as I do? Were any of you allergic to seafood or is that something I just developed?

Perhaps I exaggerate. My frustrations are exacerbated by the unknown. I see in my mother’s face an aunt, an uncle, a grandfather that I will never know. I feel in her love a strength and resilience passed from mother to daughter since before the time of slaves or conquistadors. My father’s chuckle, or the chainsaw snoring are ingrained lullabies from ancient times. The love of food and cooking and family gatherings near the kitchen are buried in DNA blessed by God or evolved after millennia.

Dear ancestors, my dear beloved ancestors. Our spirits travel dimensions to find one another, drifting in a sea of time and other lost ones searching for ties to a mysterious past. An unreachable past. At times the loss of you weighs me down until I feel I will never rise again. I cry hardest those days. Every now and then I walk a trail and feel you next to me. I am at peace especially in those times.

I think of how you would see me: a heathen, a fool, a sinner with no hope of salvation. I love you most in your judgement because it means you have dreams and hopes for me, even if I will never measure to them. I love you where you are because we come from different times and our values and morals in many ways would be completely different. I know best that at least one or two of you would want me happy and healthy, so you would never care about how I live my life as long as I am living it. I am my most carefree those days.

I dream of the wisdom you would have shared, the stories and lessons. The jokes and laughter we would share, common phrases and mottos you would pass on to me. Family names that would tether me to you in a way that is perhaps more superficial than blood, but considering my family name links me with millions of strangers all over the world? Maybe I want something more specific. Maybe I want something longer. Gift me with 5 names or 14. I am not picky, as long as I get to say I am yours and you were mine.

I wish for community. Someone to say I am just like this aunt or that cousin in temperament or vision. My parents and their siblings, their aunts and uncles, have fuzzy memories, and their generation lost as much as mine if for nothing else than the silence that was forced on them. Do they see their grandparents in me? Great-great uncles or aunts? Did we have a crazy cousin Ed or Tito?

Dear ancestors, I weep for losing you. I sob for the memories I will never gain in knowing of you. My soul home is built on sand, perhaps firm with myself and my mother and father, but the rest slips through my fingers without a care of my need for a firm foundation. One I know you would have wanted for me.

More than anything, I smile and cheer because I am here and regardless of the tether I do not have to you, regardless of how I drift through the stars of the universe, I am here. To the ones who came before me, I am the one who thrives after you.



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