For the last few weeks I’ve been working on a memorial video for my Aunt Kathy. I’ve looked at hundreds of pictures of her, from birth through this last April, when she Marched for Maddie with us. I carefully picked songs and had basically finished the video, but I felt like something was missing.

I took a break and started going through old emails Aunt Kathy had sent me. My aunt and uncle loved to travel, and they often used her breaks from teaching to explore the world. After Maddie passed, she emailed me this:

Dearest One, Today I wanted to tell you something about myself that nobody else in the world knows.  Whenever I take a trip and find a place I really love, a place where I know I could live, I think about the people I love who aren’t here anymore and imagine them in that place.  At first, I’m sad because my loved one won’t ever be able to see my favorite place, but then I imagine what they might say or how they would react.

When I was in New Zealand, Maddie was always with me.  I know she would have loved seeing the sheep that dotted the hillsides everywhere, and she would certainly have laughed when a New Zealand parrot came up to your uncle.  One of my favorite places was the botanical gardens in Christchurch, and as I walked alone along this river, I could see Maddie walking beside me, maybe stopping to pick up a leaf or hurrying towards the river to see the ducks with their ducklings.  She didn’t say much as we walked, but I knew she liked this place as much as I did.

Attached was this picture:


I took the top paragraph and worked it into the video amongst the many pictures she’d sent me from her travels. It was just what the video needed.

Yesterday was a crisp day. It rained overnight and then cleared, so the air was clean and the colors outdoors were beautiful. I took Annabel to an overlook near the beach, a place I’d been to with Madeline.

We sat on the grass for a bit, and got to know our surroundings:

grass with a view

And then, when that proved boring, we moved closer to the ocean:

trying to stand

I scooped her up and brought her to the edge, and let her gaze down on the massive sea, like her sister had two years before:

looking at the ocean

looking at the crowd


looking at the ocean

While Annie called to the seagulls and laughed at the wind, I held her tight and remembered being in the same spot with Maddie. Then I imagined my Aunt Kathy there with us. We’d have laughed at Annie’s crazy noises, and I’d have told her how much Maddie had liked the birds.

I know she would have liked this place as much I as do.