Before you died, your ankles swelled, stretching out anything you put on your feet. Now, I wear your socks. They slide down my ankles and congregate just above my shoes. I wear your socks and feel closer to you even as my memories of you blur.
How should I mourn you, Gram? I’m still figuring that out, four years after your death. But I start by wearing your socks. And I read boxes of letters that you kept from friends across the world. I watch old family videos, looking for traces of you. And I make work that strives to show my love for you while being honest about your faults, because to do otherwise would feel like it was limiting your complexity, your you-ness. I make work that looks at how Grampy and Mom and I piece ourselves back together after your death. You teach me that mourning can be a process that is ongoing and generative and collaborative. Our family has lost its soulful center, but the pain of your death and the strength of your love has kept us together, still in your orbit.
I revel in your fullness and see some of your struggles entwined with my own. Our shared shortcomings become yet another point of connection. Gram, your death lingers.