Me Because You Were

By Cynthia Lua

I was three.
I was three years old.
I was three years old when you left us one day in May.
I didn’t understand what happened. I couldn’t.
I see everything as a blur. Bits and pieces.
I have others’ memories that were loaned to me
to remember you and the day your soul left.
I am told that I saw you as the paramedics
were fighting to bring you back.
But you weren’t there. You were with me.
You told me not to cry; If I stopped crying
you would leave me a treat. A gift.
I am told that after you left us, with broken hearts
we returned to your empty home, and did indeed find
that gift just where you told me it would be.
I carry that loaned memory with me and hold it close to my heart;
it tells me that you were with me. With me. With me
when I needed you the most.
I felt anger and jealousy for the longest time
that others had the privilege to know you
and experience you longer; All I had was three years.
I wish I could have held on to you longer. The memory of you.
Your voice, your face, movements, likes, your words;
they are all mostly a blur. A blur that I try so hard to see clearly.
I remember fragments. Fragments I hold close
and never want to let go of;
One day running into your happy loving arms
when you were in your garden, making glasses out of clothespins,
blowing colorful little feathers gently in the air,
your bird named Nana, a treat in the cookie jar.
I remember spending hours and hours at the beach after you left.
All of us trying to desperately hold on. Not yet ready to heal.
Not ready to let go. Never.
I have lived 25 years without you physically here;
It has taken me this long to realize something…
You left me another gift that day your soul left.
You left me a part of you;
a part of the great soul to take with me for a lifetime.
To discover, to grow, to feel close. Our souls together.
Some things you can see and others you left me to discover.
Your beauty mark on the tip of your nose, your love
for all things floral and colorful, your need to accessorize,
your love of gardening, your creativity, your love of cooked onions,
your hiccups at the first sip of a drink, your strength,
your knack for organization, your inner light.
You didn’t leave me alone.
The piece of my soul that left with you
was replaced by the piece of your soul you left with me
to grow and to get to know.
I feel close to you. I feel like I know you a little more.
I am okay with the loaned memories.
I don’t feel that jealousy anymore
because you left me with something so special.
I may not remember your voice
and I need a picture to see your face,
but I still see you.
I imagine you as a bird soaring free and singing. A butterfly
dancing in a garden. A beautiful colorful light.
I look for signs that you are here. I feel you.
I am me because of you.
I am me because you were.
I am me because you existed.
I am me because you are with me always.