Miriam Feder home


You are the last one left

You are the last one left, the last one of my forbears, the last of your generation. Your friends and family are all gone except you, me, Sarah and Scott. My children have been the light of your life for the last twenty-some years. But you don’t see them enough to really remember them as they are now. But I’m counting on your primal knowledge that my girl will carry these stories. I know you’d say a boy carries a name, but we both know a girl carries the blood and heart and soul of a family. I’ll tell your tale, she’ll tell your tale and the wisdom, the love, the spirit and the rhythm will pass from blood to bone to blood again. It’s not so important to have every fact pinned down. It’s important to have the veil of memory returned and revered.

So what does it feel like, last one? Are you a weathered post supporting more weight than any trespasser has a right to expect? What is the last feeling of the bygone era, the last first-person blessing or curse to be landed against a too well-known opponent? Mom, does the emptiness of loss cast a sidelong knowing-sort-of glance, a nod of recognition even, before he pulls away yet another rug? Is it like an agreement to disagree? Another speech from the loyal opposition?

The catalogue of loss: You lost your country first—a loss I will not know and cannot imagine. You lost any sense of controlling events, long before you got that grown-up notion that you could be in control. I suppose it wasn’t such a shock then to find out in middle-age that control was an illusion and not really that important anyway. You almost always knew that, didn’t you?

You knew that things don’t happen for a reason, life isn’t fair, it might not be OK and the best man doesn’t win–tough lessons to master before the age of twenty. You learned that the human animal can dream up horrors beyond comprehension and there’s nothing you can do about it. You learned to act now—tomorrow may be too late.

And then you learned that your Mother and little sister were strong, smart and lucky beyond measure—each element was required for their survival. And you knew you’d always have to wonder if you could have made it through—and that you were so lucky not to have learned that.