Day 2238 – Day 2273
This time of year holds a lot of anniversaries for me. Some are sweet and some are horrible. It starts in September and goes through November. I’m fortunate to say that the season ends with some sweet anniversaries. Last week, it was my parents’ wedding anniversary. Had my mother lived, they would have been married 70 years. Seventy years. As it was, my mother died 1 year short of her 40th wedding anniversary. I can’t imagine all the ups and downs, the sacrifices, the joys and heartaches that would have accompanied 40 years together, let alone 70 years. I wonder, if my father, who misspelled my name recently, remembered the anniversary. He’s been remarried for nearly 30 years, himself, and his memory isn’t what it used to be. He’s not the kind of man that would tell me, if he remembered, but I do know that when the memory begins to go, those things that happened 40 or 70 years ago are the things that are most clearly remembered.
I could have reminded him but I believe that whether someone chooses to remember or forget something about their life is their own choice. We all cope with memory and markers in our life in our own way. I’d gladly forget the events of 9/11 or the violent crime that I survived in October of 2007. I remember, in private, my traumas just as I celebrate, in private, my parents’ anniversary and my mother’s birthday, lest it make others around me sad, to be reminded.
Last year, I was not well, and so I did not get to mark her death anniversary in July or her birth anniversary in November. This year, I quietly remembered her day in July while I worked in my garden. This year, for her birthday, I have resurrected a tradition to go on an adventure “with” her. There is little adventure to be had in the midst of a pandemic. There will be no fancy London tea room for afternoon tea, or an evening in Key West for the sunset or an exhibition of Caravaggio art works in Budapest. We could not drink tea in the shadow of the Hagia Sophia, but we did get to have an adventure. You can hear about it and see some photos on my YouTube channel.
Anniversaries are a kind of mixed bag. On the one hand, are they keeping us locked in a past that we’ve outlived, drawing us back into a cycle that we’d rather escape? Or, are they the way that we make sense and meaning of our lives? One might say the violent episodes that mark my autumn every year are the ones best left in the past. But, as much as I’d like to forget them, I do reflect every year on the bonds of friendship that were formed that September in 2001. Every year I reflect on how I survived the events of October 2007 and sought (but ultimately failed to receive) justice. I reflect not on victimhood but on survival. And while I work to unlearn the stories I tell myself about myself and how I managed my traumas, I do enjoy remembering my mother and reflecting on how my life has been so different to that of my mother’s and how she has been a model of strength, bravery and kindness for all the women who came after her, in her family, whether they were conscious of her influence or not. We are the story our ancestors tell and we have the chance to retell and reshape the story every time we remember them.
I’m grateful for anniversaries. I am not a person that spends her mental energy on shallow thoughts and so anniversaries and birthdays give me pause to stop and think about relationships in my life, on the events of my life and how they’ve shaped me, and, in making meaning of them, how I have re-shaped those events. I’m grateful that I have a mind that tends to be reflective. I’m grateful that of the few adventures left to us in pandemic times, and I am grateful for my ethereal companion.