picture in a frame

November 19th came and went.

Not acknowledging it didn’t make it any easier.

This time last year was a real struggle for me. I still remember how I avoided everyone’s phone calls and how I didn’t even want to be around family for Thanksgiving and felt even more dread to be around them during Christmas. I should have been feeling the opposite.

I met Nya for the first time in 2007. Prior to that, all I knew of her was a picture in a frame. It was quite an emotional night and the jet lag probably didn’t help me out either. It also doesn’t really help that when I see someone cry, my first reaction is to join them. Not because I’m trying to put the focus on me, but to share in their pain since I know I can’t take them away.

Nya, although forgetful at her old age, always had a smile for me. I knew she knew I was her grandchild and that I had indeed come to see her after 20 years. She talked about my dad when he was younger and how he loved frog legs. I guess I know what I get my love of frog legs from.

When I had left, I promised her I would return in 2010, but she never made it to 2010 and I never made it to Laos on Lao New Years. I was grateful for the opportunity to get there this summer to fulfill a promise, even though it was a few months too late.

When I got back to my village this summer, we stopped at Koun Nya’s that to let her know that I had returned to say goodbye. Not only is it a beautiful structure, but it’s right near the road so as I was leaving five days later, I was able to quickly say my goodbyes.

Just thinking about my aunt makes me really miss Nya. My aunt is alone now so I was happy to keep her company during my visit. The hardest moment was when we were going around time saying goodbye to family and we stopped at Nya Gong’s house and my aunt talked about her last moments with Nya. I’ve never tried so hard not to cry in my whole life and I love my aunt that much for for the care she gave to Nya because she literally did it alone.

I am thankful that one of my photographer friends visited Laos and got a great picture of Nya. It was the photo we ended up using for her funeral here. She’s got the cutest smirk on her face.

I think Dad is still haunted by her. Sometimes I wonder what he feels since none of us were able to make it back to Laos. I took a picture of Nya when I was there and had it blown up for Dad, but it’s no longer in his room, or the dining room, which is where it was relocated to temporarily.

Mom said she told him to burn it.

Wish heaven had a phone, so I could hear your voice again. I thought of you today, but that is nothing new. I thought about you yesterday and days before that too. I think of you in silence, I often speak your name. All I have are memories & a picture in a frame. It’s been a year, and I still miss you, ຍ່າ.

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