days of our lives

8 09 2008




Walking a mile to school on that November morning, there was nothing out of the ordinary.  A third grader, lunch box in hand, wearing a dress no doubt and grateful that it wasn’t cold enough yet to be zipped into snow pants before leaving the house.  A few hours later, the principal’s voice crackled over the loudspeaker interrupting the mid-morning lessons.  I can see it in my mind’s eye as if it were yesterday.

Another Fall morning fast forward 38 years- dressed in another type of uniform, another room – like a classroom but it was the business center of a convention hotel and another voice bringing startling news. Events like JFK’s assassination or 9/11 or Pearl Harbor for our parents’ generation are days all of us remember.  Collective cultural memory.

Then there are all of the personal days highlighted on the calendars in our heads.  First kisses, engagements, weddings, births and deaths.  Monday’s do that to me now.  I catch myself looking at the clock – remembering that at 11:23 a.m. my world changed forever.  The two of us were at the kitchen table while she was eating her lunch and noticed the time.  I had to go to the calendar to make sure that it had only been two short weeks.  She still finds more to be grateful for than to be sad about.  I like that.

The part I most dislike is the fading factor.  With each passing day there are aspects that I can’t capture like I could a week ago…the timber of his voice, the cadence of his footfall on the wooden floors in the middle of the night.  When we get to the business of sorting through all his personal effects, many things will be sparked to life again.  I keep asking myself the questions – what made this special to him?  

Three pens wrapped up with a rubberband, a napkin tucked under the band.  He had this thing for pharmaceutical pens that he’d steal from the doctor’s office – claiming they were “good” pens.  “Do you need a good pen?”, he’d ask paddling down the hall to his room where his private stash was hidden.  And I’d find myself in possession of another reminder that Cymbalta could do wonders for me.

I went to find his wallet the other day to get his healthcare cards out to make some calls.  I couldn’t find it anywhere.  She didn’t know where it had gone…but I remembered seeing her looking at the pictures he had tucked inside since forever – one of her taken the year she graduated from highschool and one of the family on a Sunday morning when I was less than a year old.  I panicked thinking she probably gave the actual wallet little import and tossed it away.  I finally found it on the desk in her room – but she didn’t remember ever putting it there. Throwing certain things away will probably be harder for me than it will be for her.  Once they are gone – I feel like pieces of him will be farther away too, out of my reach for mental retrieval.  

So unless the History Channel has plans on doing a special about the days of my life – it’s up to me.  I just have to do the hard work of remembering that he lives on in my life as much alive today as five years ago or fifty for that matter.  It just doesn’t feel like it.