Remembering the Dead

I meant to be posting more about my dead, but time has seemed to get away from me lately.  Today I want to make a short post about my great great uncle, Charles Comito.  I never met him, of course.  He died in 1944, when my own grandmother was a little girl.

In January of 1943, at the age of 22 or 23, Charles enlisted in the army as a Warrant Officer.  I’m not sure when he actually left for training or how long he was in the army.  A lot of this information is family hear-say from my grandmother.  Since she was a child at the time and her memory isn’t great now, it’s all kind of murky.  Anyway, the story is that he went to New York for training before deployment.  During that time, he died.  I’ve been told from family that it was either A) an allergic reaction to a vaccination or B) an untreated illness of some sort.

The reason I’m writing about him is because no matter how he died, he died at about 24 years old.  He wanted to fight for his country and he died doing that, even if it isn’t in the way most soldiers go.  He wrote poetry for his mother and sent it home to her while he was away.  It reveals someone who seemed kind, and sweet.  My great grandmother, his sister, used to write him a letter every single week.  He died in June but it took a while for my family to find out that he had passed away, so she kept writing to him over July and into August of ’44.  Her unopened letters where returned with his things.  I think another reason I’m drawn to give him mention and honors by name in ancestor work is because  I was able to read them once, and it was so clear how much she loved him.  The last letter she sent him, the final lines read something like “We haven’t heard from you in a while, and you know how Mom worries.  Please try to give us a call or a letter soon.  We miss you.  Love, Mary” and it absolutely broke my heart.  He has no descendants and no one else to remember him.

So here’s to you Charles Comito.

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Remembering my Dead

Although October is the more traditional month for the dead, at least by American cultural standards, its only been in the last week that I’ve been really feeling them.  So, as the feeling strikes me, I’m going to be sharing some stories and photos of my dead.  It seems as though I should speak of my ancestors first, but instead, I’ll be talking about an old friend.

I had a rough childhood and no friends until middle school.  I fell in with a group of girls who really helped me through middle and high school.  We were a tight knit group for most of that time, only drifting away or breaking away between sixteen-eighteen.

Avery was the friend I wanted to be.  She was incredibly smart, funny, cute, and a talented artist.  She was weird and spontaneous, and had appetite for life coupled with a lack of fear that I’ve always craved.  She experimented with different hair and clothing styles, changing her whole look every few weeks.  Avery was restless and wanted to break free of our boring Iowa life.  She used to tell me, even then, that she wanted to “live fast and die pretty”.  Around sixteen, she fell into drugs.  Acid and heroine, right out of the gate.  As the child of an addict, that wasn’t something I could be around so we drifted apart.  She lost full ride scholarships and dropped out of school. She continued to party, to make art, to burn herself down.

Avery burned away her mind and within a couple years, the girl I knew was completely gone.  It was devastating.  Even so, during that time, on the rare occasion we saw each other, she was always kind to me.  After high school ended, I think we only spoke three times.  Once on the phone and twice online.

Early in June of 2013, she reached out on facebook and commented on an old picture of us together.  She chatted with me, told me that she never forgot my kindness or our friendship.  Two days later, she took her own life.  June, the birth month we shared.  She (we) had just turned twenty six years old.  I didn’t know her past sixteen, but I loved her and in the end, she remembered that she loved me.

She was the first of my dead to contact me, to reach out and guide me to start worshiping the dead/my ancestors.  She has guided me away from making a terrible life decision.  I think she’s happy on the other side, and finally free.  It still pains me that life was so hard for her and that she took the path she did, but I try to be happy for the peace she found.

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Her art.  Her obituary.