“Mama do I have to go to school on Columbus Day?”
“No, honey your school is closed that day remember?”
“Oh yeah, but I thought that was the day, you know…”
And then my daughter trailed off not able to finish her thought and looking at me with pleading eyes hoping I’d rescue her from having to complete her words. Of course she was talking about the anniversary of Jordan’s death.
“Are you talking about October 12th, the day Jordan died?”
She shakes her head.
“It’s okay to say the day Jordan died.”
“I know, I thought it was Columbus Day.”
“That was the day we found out in 2008. It won’t be on that day every year. That’s just how you remember it. This year it’s on a Wednesday.”
“Should I go to school that day?”
“It might feel better to stick to your regular routine. But if you wake up that day and feel too sad to go then you can stay home. Let’s wait and see.”
“You’re right. Plus I won’t be at school on Friday because we’re going to see Merrick. I should go to school Wednesday.”
We found out Jordan had died the night before in the wee hours of Columbus day. Every year since, that day has been the bellwether for friends and family clanging its reminder that if the anniversary isn’t that day, it’s coming.
My family continues having the good fortune of compassionate, caring friends and family. We’ve received emails, cards, calls, invitations to meals, all to say, “We’re thinking of you all. We miss Jordan too.” The grace of others is a lifeline on what can be very dark days. Times of “what ifs,” and “if onlys” that serve no purpose beyond deepening the pain of loss. It will be 3 years tomorrow since Jordan’s death. My apprehension about the approach of the day fluctuates but isn’t as visceral as it was that first year when I wondered if I would remember to breathe as images of cars careening off of overpasses and my son being pulled lifeless from a car swirled in my head. Those images don’t appear as frequently. But the ache of loss is still as palpable. The days leading up to the 12th are fraught with thoughts of what used to be. Three years ago today my son was still living life fully and so was I. Thinkinking back on that time, I wish I could have the clarity to fully remember each moment of those early days of October when Jordan exuded energy and life. I miss him so much. I yearn to hear his voice, see what he would look like, just see him moving and being.
Three years later life is different. With each passing year there is a sadness that I’m being pulled further away from the time of Jordan’s life. I’ll always hate marking time by the death of my son, it is a cruelty that needs a name other than anniversary. Yet, I don’t dread the anniversary of Jordan’s death the way I did the first two years. I know the day will come and I will mourn and weep for what could have been and the reality that my son is dead will push forth through my soul in ways that are painful to imagine.
But I also know that after October 12th, the next day will follow and I’ll be on the path to continuing my journey of living and finding joy in my work, my family and connections with the spirit of my beautiful firstborn son.