Technically, I should contribute two separate posts. One for each letter. But these two posts were intertwined. Inseparable.
I was named Clarissa just over 32 years ago. It was a family name and I loved the originality. But I had a secret. There wasn't a member of my family that called me Clarissa. I was Christopher Columbus, Chris, Krissy Bell... and finally my two favorite, Clariss and Lariss. Uncle Ray and Aunt Sally called me both. In the world, I was plain, forgettable.
Except to them.
Uncle Ray taught me Chess. He gave me my first taste of ancient literature - Homer's Odyssey. There wasn't a question unanswered, an opinion too small. He was my champion.
Death stole him exactly a year ago.
My parents and I visited him in the final hours, and true to form he never let me forget my worth. I've glanced at these photos from his funeral and try to remember his life as opposed to his death. But Death is funny that way. The funeral doesn't stop the memories, nor does it lessen the pain. Although the balm of time slowly heals the wounds, it doesn't change the desire for one more conversation, one more joke.
I couldn't write about being Clarissa, without writing about Uncle Ray. A house couldn't stand without its walls. And therein lies the problem. Death convinces us of her finality. The memories and love endure to both tempt and comfort those left behind. But then I remember, I'm Clarissa, the niece of a great man. Death may have ripped him from my grasp, but she's no match for his legacy. Or my memories.