Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Dread of Dates
Dates loom large lately.
There is the date when everything changed: March 19, 2013. The dates of panic attacks we did not know about till after N’s death. The dates in the past year that we had no idea would be his last September 3 or January 15, his last birthday or Chanukah. The dates marked in his calendar for trips never taken, deadlines for term papers never written, and all the blank dates left in 2013. The months of struggle that we assumed would heal with time and care, while we went on with our lives.
I see a random date on an e-mail, a photo, a work document from before March 19 and my heart sinks: that was then, when we were innocent. We had no inkling of the disaster that would upend our lives. I yearn to go back to the most ordinary day from that time and hold onto it. To climb the tower, like in Back to the Future, and turn back the clock. I would freeze it in August, 2010, before N’s life was forever shadowed by a friend’s suicide.
As the Jewish new year approaches, I dread the life review, repentance, and remembrance that I usually look forward to at this season. For five months of this year, I had no younger son, no relationship to resolve to mend. Instead, an unaccountable absence, drop-off into an abyss.
I cringe to write or see the dates 1991 – 2013. The narrow span of his life still stuns me. The dates that will define N for the world on his gravestone. The dates I cannot bear to write in his scrapbook because to do so would mean The End.
The weeks and months unravel since his death. The shock of the first two months, the chilling reality of the next two months, the struggle to balance bouts of despair with reclaiming our lives. Our calendars are already filling with obligations for the fall—days without time for grief work, memories slipping through my fingers. The prospect of the first anniversary of his death next March and the unveiling of his gravestone—the final public marking of his passing. All the painful anniversaries to come.
Dates, relentless reminders. Time moving forward without N in it.