I found myself sitting on the floor of my studio, at 2:30 in the morning, surrounded by photographs. It seems like a lifetime ago. I have changed and grown so much since then. As I sorted through the almost 1000 photos, ten years of my life, it was like a time machine. I could see myself back in those places. I could smell and feel the things pictured. I could hear the conversations we had as I click through the rolls of film.
I noticed how many times that my sister and my family were in the photos. I noticed how few, her sisters and family were in. Of all of them, I found only a few. All of the photos of her family were from long before I had even met Shelly.
For almost a decade I wondered about Shelly's family. I have tried to put myself in their place. Is there anything that could happen between my sister and I that would keep us apart for nine years? I can't begin to even imagine such a thing.
What could anything that I kept of Shelly's life, or our life together, possibly mean to them? They missed more than a quarter of her life. My photos are exactly that, my photos. My memories.
There is one photo album from her childhood. They looked happy. It's none of the people I knew. It is all Shelly had of her family. A few dozen photos from more than twenty years earlier.
There was a note book that Shelly started a letter to her father in. He died before she could give it to him. She talked about how sad she was about not being in contact with any of them.
She felt as though her sisters hated her for some reason. She didn't mention what the reasons were. She loved them all but they caused her pain, so she let them go.
I will never know what happened between them. There are no clues left. Over the years I have slowly let go of the things I kept. I gave them to worthy causes. The few things that I still have
were in some way meaningful to me. I had saved jewelry and trinkets that I have been slowly giving to my nieces. I'm not sure they even remember their aunt Shelly anymore. I saved the photos of us.
I tried to move on long ago.
I am going to send her sister the photo album and the letter to their father. For now, I am going to keep the rest. Even though I told her sister she could keep in touch, I have a feeling I wont hear from her again. At least now they know. I can stop wondering. Maybe this is the last chapter from that part of my life. Maybe now I can finally let the last of it go.