Lives Unravelled, Some Secrets Revealed

Those of you who know me might remember the story of how my family came to be split between two continents. Reading “The Day I Left” will help contextualise this post.

Clothes, shoes, books, papers,

Poems, stories, novels, articles. 
Photos, family, memories, soul,


Tangible and un-lasting. 
Intangible and lasting. 
Beyond the present.
Lives well lived, well loved.
Lives handed back,
Ashes to ashes dust to dust.
Lives unravelled.
Secrets revealed…
(At least those that were discovered)…

With the passing of my Gran a few years ago and my Uncle last year the task of clearing the apartment in Lisbon is in my Mom’s hands. I don’t have the words to express what it feels like  to go through the lives of special family you love.

Fragmented thoughts flit through my mind during the day.

Giving away their clothes to the local parish – how mundane. Yet poor people are going to have clean dry clothes to wear and warm coats to keep the winter chill away.

Finding unexpected treasurers like a leather box filled with love letters, the paper yellowing and fragile…finding remnants of tragic love, lost love, unrequited love…and looking at someone you knew so well with different, wondering eyes.

The questions that go thru my mind – why did they keep this trinket? What did this picture mean to them? Who is this person in this photo?

Faded memories are brought back to life in full colour and sound.

Black and white family photos – old-fashioned poses with the matriarch and patriarch (my Great-Grandparents) in front surrounded by the children and grandchildren at the back.

School photos of me, my sister and my brother on the walls.

Photos of my wedding sent from another country so they would have a memory of the day.

Everything in this flat still reminds me of them. Smells, textures, the feel of the place. My Mom and I refer to the things as belonging to them…”Didn’t Avo have a toaster?”, “Where did Tio keep the teapot?”

This space will always remind me of them. When the walls are painted, the floors redone and new furniture occupying new spots this space will always remind me of them.

It feels like lives have been unravelled and me and my Mom are helping by giving away some of their belongings. But by keeping this space enlivened with new energy, we are in actual fact keeping their memory alive.

That thought is what keeps my Mom and I coming to this country half-way across the world every year.

Tangible and un-lasting. 
Intangible and lasting. 
Beyond the present.
In memory of Maria Luisa Cunha and Guilherme de Mello.