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The Privilege of Memory

Pharaohs built their own memorials, the glamorous pyramids and tombs. Other people memorialize their loved ones who have preceded them to their final home by building monuments or shrines. These buildings and epitaphs are beautiful, but impersonal. It is the privilege of memory and the opportunity of sharing it with others that gives us a unique common denominator. Each person, before he or she passes on, spends life preparing personal memorials, and these memorials are principally in our hearts.

Memory, the treasure and invisible guardian of all human beings, equips those who have lost loved ones with the gift of lessening the pain of those grieving at the moment. From the storehouse of memories, we gather inspiration, lessons in living, feel connected, acknowledge our vulnerability and redefine the essence of living. Memories connect us to the other world, where our loved ones are residing, affirming that death only helps in changing our ?address.?

Death is not final. It is just a step within the eternal journey, a door to a more comforting and strife-free life.

None of my fallen ones was a war hero. Some were severed from the agonies of life by being called for their crowns too soon. But they, too, were heroes. They brought joy to our lives by being there, caring and giving us hope.

Even so, their deaths were lessons. Their departures revealed that a loss is always shared, thus lessening the pain of the grief. The phone calls, cards, visits by neighbors and friends were additional memoirs of a life well-lived and a heritage with lasting significance.

It?s those dear ones with whom we share the memories of our departed loved ones I am indebted to honor. Somebody said they are like flower plants, grasses and shrubs planted around the hole where a front yard tree has been uprooted. Their roots grow where the tree?s roots once were. Their presence reduces chances of seeing the empty hole. Their beauty keeps one looking at them rather than at the empty hole. These plants are nourished, weeded and watered with the same intensity of care as was provided for the tree.

Relatives and friends from different walks of life are those flower plants, grasses and shrubs. They cover the emptiness created by memories of loved ones. They make that which is bitter to endure to be possibly sweet. Relationships need to be nourished, weeded and watered, and not with leftovers of life, or trying to weed in the eleventh hour or with polluted water, but with the best of our resources.

The privilege of memory provides us with the opportunity of building lasting ?shrines and monuments? in our hearts.

The privilege of memories is echoed in the of words of Prof. Morrie Schwartz, in his deathbed, ''As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away?All the love you created is still there? All the memories are still there?You live on in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here?Death ends a life, not a relationship.'' Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, Sports Columnist.

In memory of Jane Mbinya Kituku (20), Ndolo Kituku (2 weeks), Stella Maris Mwelu Kituku (4) and David Musoo Kituku (2). And many friends in Africa and America.

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