So many different anniversaries we note in these human lives we lead. We anticipate them, celebrate some and mourn others. We memorialize significant historical and celebratory events, the bad and good: D.Day, 9/11, the first pandemic lock down, the 1977 Blazer NBA win, February 14, 1859 Statehood. Some anniversaries remind us of accomplishments: we reminisce with our oldest friends about high school graduation, remembering good times and bad, bonding over the teacher who expelled us or the one we still share cards with, the friends we have lost touch with and others who have died.
Then there are the anniversaries closest to our hearts. Birthdays, our own when we question how on earth we could be so old. Our kids’ entry into this world or that of a best friend or partner. Wedding anniversaries, the ones we still celebrate today and the ones that are no more. And, among the most difficult, anniversaries of the death of our loved ones.
Today is the seventh anniversary of Dad’s death. Shortly after he died, I began writing. Tenaciously. My grief and stories and gratitude hovered and matured, but never left me with what some call writer’s block. In the end I crafted a memoir and soon after I was thankful to find what, to me, felt like an appropriate publisher for my story. I appreciate Bedazzled Ink Publishing for doing what they do to “celebrate the unique and under-represented voices of women and books about women that appeal to all readers.” Since that time writing has intercepted my being, allowing me to spill stories and emotions into soon-to-be four books and 193 blogs.
And now, in addition to observing today’s anniversary of Dad’s death, I have just last week passed the four-month anniversary of Mom’s final day on earth. I treasure the dreams I have about my parents. Sometimes I feel their spirits nearby, reading into occurrences as some of us might. For after all – who knows? Nobody, really. Last week I was sitting on the deck and a hummingbird hovered close to my face, its tiny wings flapping mightily and so close I thought it might peck my eyes out! The bird flew off and circled back several times to hover. Yes, I did think this was perhaps a message from the beyond.
Often I think about the takeaways I’ve uncovered since my parents’ deaths. First. Kindness matters. Forever. During Dad’s final unconscious hours at Meridian Park Hospital, with a smile, the attending nurse told us she had previously cared for our dad on a previous hospital visit. She liked him very much, he was funny and kind. Kindness matters. Forever.
I’ve learned to be sad. It’s okay to feel sorrow. To honor the love that we have felt for those in our life, I suspect we must allow ourselves to be sad. And that’s okay.
I’ve learned to remember. Although I don’t want to live in the past, there is joy in remembering. Sometimes when we remember we work out things we couldn’t figure out before. Sometimes we forgive, and other times we let things go as we realize how little the details mattered. Remembering brings joy.
Being sad and remembering also leads to feeling grateful. I continue to learn to be grateful. Life is hard and beautiful and unfair often all tied up in one mixed up package. It’s a miracle when you think about it, and we are fortunate to have these moments to be.
I am learning to be in the moment. I’ll never be 100% there, but I have learned how much of my life has passed, how fortunate I have been and how each moment counts.
Yes, most days I get on with my life, each day with memories that peek up and cause me to look away from the computer, stop in mid-sentence. And other days I ride down to the river or climb into my kayak, peer into its channel and remember.