A Short List of Personal Memento Mori

I normally review death-related books and revel in other related ephemera on Something Eldritch, but while I’m waiting for my next (and much anticipated book) to arrive by mail (Beyond the Dark Veil – look out for my thoughts next week!) I decided to get a little more personal with some of the memento mori in my own life.

I also naturally reflected on death this week because my family lost one of its most precious members.

Our fifteen-year-old labrador retriever Sunny found her peace on Tuesday. She’s had a long life filled with love, lots of food, snuggles, and pets, and this makes her loss more comforting though not any less strange – she’s been part of the family since I was eight, and it’s almost uncanny to come home for a visit, like I have this past week, and not see her furry blonde face and tired amber eyes.

She was such a comfort and a gentle soul in her old years. Our house has lost its special warmth without her.

So that brings me to the first item on my list of personal memento mori:

  1. Sunny’s puppy collar

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She was the cutest thing and impossible not to love, and seeing how tiny of a neck this collar had to fit around takes me all the way back to when she first became part of our family. It also makes me realize how fast that time has passed.

2.  My Grandpa Sweeney’s book of Hemingway stories

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I love buying vintage books, but this one is so special because it belonged to one of the best people I ever knew, and it has his name inscribed inside. Books as physical objects are capable of telling stories in their own right – from the way their binding is broken or their pages are torn or the way a coffee stain seeps through several pages at once.

3.   My grandparents’ funeral prayer cards

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I really cherish these. I love them because they’re something tangible to leave a funeral with; something to hold onto, and they offer a psalm of consolation and a beautiful, dreamy piece of Italian Catholic artwork on their fronts.

4.  My Blood Milk “Belonging to the Underworld” ring

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Sure, this isn’t a relic from a person passed-on, but it’s my relic, and I find it to hold some kind of spiritual weight because of the context of how it’s crafted – as an homage to the goddess of the underworld, Persephone. We go through a lot of little deaths in our life; much of our time living is spent grieving, for moments and people and memories, and even versions of ourselves, that are forever lost but not forgotten. This ring, for me, serves as a memento mori to remind me of the many deaths, both small and large yet all inherently cosmic, that I’ve faced so far in my life.

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