This year on my birthday: 66. This year four days after my birthday: my mother will be gone for 27. It’s easy to keep track of her absence because she died a month before my younger son was born. I will always know how old he is.
Come a week in March, both boys will roll round one year older. THAT same week will mark my sister being gone four years.
The confluence of dates is not my doing. My mother died four days after my birthday and my sister died on one of my son’s birthdays.
Noticing is inescapable, in other words.
And it’s not morbid as it turns out. Listening to a conversation between Anderson Cooper and Stephen Colbert while walking Finn this morning opened up some pockets of gladness or recognition or something. They talked about grief. How it’s a gift. Or rather, how still being alive is a gift. It’s more nuanced than that though, given how grief acts as a vessel for remembrance, celebration.
Both of them experienced devastating losses early. Cooper’s father died of heart disease when he was ten and then eleven years later his brother jumped off a building, killing himself (while their mother watched). Colbert also lost his father at age ten, but in an accident. That accident also claimed the lives of two of his brothers. Their conversation is really worth a listen.
I was born just after sunset in a hospital that no longer exists. Here’s a haiku I wrote last week.
Cooper is documenting cleaning out his mother’s apartment. She died in 2019 and apparently she left notes for him everywhere. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while.
Looking at this doll without a note, how would D know that I dyed the wool, cotton strips, and linen myself? Or that I knit the legs in the waiting room of Children’s Hospital while a surgeon put pins in his arm, all the while praying for his bones to knit (get it?) and heal. Or that the striped top came from a shirt I wore frequently when he was little, the collar from a cuff of a sweater of his dad’s?
PS it didn’t occur to me until after posting this that year zero for me would’ve been sixty-seven years ago. But the syllables don’t work for the haiku form!