I wish I had done everything on earth with you. F. Scott Fitzgerald
My father was 5 years old on December 7, 1941. And the marker for the start of World War II. Two decades later he’s a dad. How did my parents reflect and pay homage with a two year old and baby in their midst as young parents?
I was born just a few days before the 20th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. No doubt the December anniversary brought undeniable reminiscing and reflecting on the magnitude of the day, the time especially for their parents, my grandparents.
My children were 4 and 7 when the September 11 attacks occurred. It was a beautiful crisp day like this one, 20 years later. Off to school with backpacks and smiles, childhood limiting their ability to comprehend how the day would unfold. Like such mornings, promise was held in the air just by virtue of the blue sky, the clear air on that Tuesday morning. And then…
In the days leading up to anniversaries of marked significance, we immerse ourselves back into detailing the memory of that time, that place. To be there again— is to remember. And remembering is where the rawness lives. Where the sounds and sights and smells live. And maybe even to attempt to process again, the how and the why and the what if’s.
My father will tend to his father Angelo’s grave this month on September 21 reflecting on the loss of a coal miner with black lungs who passed in 1971. My dad so young at 35. His dad only 65. And I was 10.
We all have such dates and times tucked inside and in personal spaces. Summer time losing my momma, Gracie. And my cousin Chuck. December, filled with Christmas joy, but one of the hardest months of the year. I lost my grandmother Rose in 1995 the day after Christmas. I had a miscarriage a couple weeks before Christmas one year and a couple weeks after New Year’s in another.
We try our best to be a part of the season. The joy, the music, the gatherings. Sometimes it is the very action of simply lighting a candle, giving a thought to or just talking about the circumstance that brings us from the edge of the past back into the present. To the people still here with an outstretched hand.
Of the people we have lost across a year on the calendar, each month represents someone who once was with us and then no longer is. Whether it is their birthday or the day that they passed —either too early, too painfully, even peacefully onto the other side —that day, too is a remembrance.
I’ve never been great with math and numbers. We’ve never had a great relationship. Numbers and I just don’t get along. Yet the one area of numbers that I stunningly carry with me are the dates on the calendar that I can identify specifically where I was, who I was with, what I was wearing, all of the fine details to re-create the setting.
Such remembering of dates finds me for a moment of that certain day paying homage, offering gratitude and sending up a prayer for the person or place represented on that day. Not just sad times, but the beautiful happy ones, too. And this is how our life tapestry stretches in length and width and richness over the years.
In memory of all those who have gone on before us…