I’ve taken a hiatus from the blog, as I’ve been on holiday for two weeks. Leigh, Bethany, Kiean and I were visiting my family in Kentucky. Every day was filled with visits and outings. I wanted to write, but I also wanted to take full advantage of spending time my family and friends. The latter won.
Several people came in town to visit while I was stateside. One being Katie, my best friend who lives in Boston. We decided to do a little sightseeing, to a place called Waverly Hills Sanatorium – an old, abandoned, derelict Tuberculosis hospital, considered one of the most haunted places in the US. Loads of thrill seekers – aka ‘ghost hunters’ – visit Waverly in hopes of experiencing the paranormal. The site has made headlines and has been featured in various TV programs.
I recounted to Katie my first time visiting Waverly: I was in high school, a friend and I broke into the place and managed to explore the building. We went on a rainy evening, just as the sun began to set. I’ll be honest, it was pretty freaky. I managed to snap some photos, just before we had to run for our lives through the pitch black hallways, chased by the security guard.
A few days ago I tried to locate these photos. I thought they were stashed away in a box of mementos. When I scoured through the box, I came across hundreds of photographs from my childhood. Memories of my middle school and high school years – all captured through the lens of an old Kodak disposable camera.
I spent hours looking through them, trying to recall the names of friends from all those years ago. Many of the photographs were really embarrassing moments from my awkward years: metal braces and a terribly 80’s, gelled ‘scrunched’ hair style.
Every now and then I saw a photo which caused me to stop in my tracks – when the picture I held was the portrait of a friend who has passed away. Young faces with innocent smiles, belonging to those who died well before their time. There were four in total, though I can think of ten others who I don’t have a personal photograph of.
What began as a fun time reminiscing, left me in a solemn state.
While I have been away from home, so many of my friends and family members have passed away. I have to catch myself sometimes. I have to be careful to do a mental inventory of these passings, otherwise I tend to forget that they are gone. It’s easy to do, I think it is because I haven’t been around to witness the effect of their absence.
This is one of the majors, of all the things that make it hard to be away from home.
So much has happened in the five years I’ve been abroad.
Sometimes, in an effort to maintain the connection, I try to hold on to what was. I think back on all the times I had with those friends and family members. It leaves me with a bittersweet taste of nostalgia.
Though I have to watch myself when I get caught up in the past. Because, long ago, it had become a habit of mine to relive memories, specifically painful ones.
It went further than that. Often times I would try to relive my regrets and mistakes too.
Holding onto my past became something of a quest for me.
It was kind of like chasing ghosts – the ghosts of my past.
Before I knew it, I’d be in a sorry state. I’d lose focus by dwelling on the past. Doing this was neither helpful nor healthy.
I think I am one among many who have tortured themselves in this way. Choosing pain. Not choosing life.
Being a ‘ghost hunter’ of my past prevented me from living in the fullness I was meant to experience. I realized that looking backwards only served to keep me bound. Unmoving. Like stagnant water.
It was only when I learned the promises of God, that I had the hope to aim for something better.
The promise of freedom from my personal prison. The promise of joy and abundant life.
These are the things I sought to chase. It has made all the difference.
Looking at those photographs of my friends who have passed has reminded me to approach life with more vigor – as it is such a precious gift. Death has a way of shaking us, reminding of us to really live.
In memory of them, I will not waste it.