Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Day Like Any Other?

My friend and neighbor, whose son committed suicide a couple of years before Leif asked me a few weeks ago, just before the anniversary of her son's death, "Why is it that those days are so hard? Aren't they just a day like any other?"

I answered her that they aren't just a day like any other because humans mark time. They have calendars and a way to measure the passage of time. We spend our whole lives measuring time and its passage, knowing what day it is, what hour, what month, what year, knowing what we are supposed to do or celebrate on a particular day, knowing when the birthdays and anniversaries come, when the holidays arrive. It's only natural that the day something as momentous and life-changing as the death of one's child happens will be one we will continue to remember, not just as the day it happened, but each calendar day throughout the years that falls on the same month and day, another year having passed.

We note or celebrate the passage of a another years since our last birthday, another wedding anniversary for a year gone by, and the birthdays of our deceased child will still come. We will still calculate how old they would be if they had lived. We will remember the day of our child's death and each year on that day we will commemorate it in our own way, whether only in our hearts and minds, or with something more concrete.

Today my sister Sherie brought beautiful plants from her and my mother, and a lovely bouquet from my sister, Lannay, in remembrance of Leif's death three years ago. Three years ago today he died, though we did not find his body until April 10th. My mind goes over again and again those hours when none of us knew where he was or what had happened to him, thinking about his lifeless body lying in his kitchen, cold, gone.

It still seems as though he could come driving up to my door, still get out and say "silly Mommy," and give me a big hug. It still seems as though he should be coming here for dinner and to watch a movie, or chatting with me online. I expect it will always seem that way, no matter how real his death is. The mind does not let go of a loved one easily. The heart holds them close forever.

So no, it is not a day like any other. it is a day with a terrible significance, the anniversary of a tragic loss, a day to remember, a day to mourn. But also a day to pick oneself up and dry one's tears and go on with life, grateful for sisters, grateful for each other, Peter and I, grateful for our son and grandchildren, grateful Leif was ours, even for so short a time.

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