In 1996, official records record this date as B’s official date of death. In the 19 years that have passed since that day, “March madness” has a deeply personal connotation to us that has nothing to do with basketball.
There are few days of note on my calendar anymore. Primarily the kids’ and a few close friends’ birthdays we celebrate annually. M and I got married on Valentine’s day and do not really care much about our own birthdays or go out of our way to celebrate; it is one of those events that come and go without much fuss. Fortunately or unfortunately B’s birthday and this painful anniversary loom large every year, and while I would not say it has become easier as the anniversaries mount, I will say it has become less impactful in the days that build to it. My sense of dread is not so profound, although I can feel the depressive, oppressive sadness nipping at my heels. It’s bearable, because the alternative of forgetting or having my memory wiped is simply unbearable.
For as crappy and down and lost in a crying-any-second fog as I am during this week, this month each year, I function and life continues, although a lot more chaotically and it more fits-and-starts than usual. It seems like part of my brain completely falls away – I am far more short-tempered and impatient than usual, I am hyper-sensitive and get sobbing upset over absolutely nothing, and I forget the most routine and basic things. It’s a troubling time, and I try to be more watchful and vigilant about my overall mood and mindset in order to maintain an appropriate level of self-control. It’s also absolutely exhausting.
But for the emotional roller coaster I am on right now, I have 12 years and 5 days of memories and stories and things I would not trade for another hundred years with this annual volatile spectrum. Our lives changed the moment she fell ill 19 years ago, and I know our world is a smaller place without her in it now. Yet for all that, life would be less interesting, I would be not quite as interesting and all positive things had I not had B, experienced her unique blend of me, her father, our families and the world surrounding all of us, loved and been loved by her in return. I think of her, I miss her each and every day, and I hope and pray that never changes. My life continues and has a continuously changing landscape; the happiness, joy, and contentment far outweigh heartbreak, sadness, and grief. Even this week, this painful, trigger-happy week, is overall a grand experience.
Today we have ducks in the pool, cats stalking them, visiting dogs barking. It’s a little overcast and the weather is cooler than it’s been all week, but perfectly fine with a light sweatshirt and jeans. All in all, just the perfect balance of happiness in the present and sadness for a past life-altering event. We have a good life, and we try hard not to take it for granted. That does not meant I do not fantasize and play the “what if” game of what I might be willing to trade for just a few more minutes to just be with B.
Rest in peace, my beautiful first child, my forgiving experiment in the parenting experience. You are always loved, never forgotten, until we are all together again.