My Dad died twenty three years ago today.
For a long time after I could not remember the exact date. I just knew it was the end of September. My mother generally reminded me. She remembers dates. Birthdays. Anniversaries. And yes, the dates that those closest to her died.
Not me. I wouldn’t remember a birthday, outside of my own, if it didn’t show up in my Outlook.
For a long time, I kept trying to remember the exact date, but I refused to write it down. It seemed rather morbid. After a while I gave up. Because really, why did I even need to remember such a thing?
I prefer my memories to surround the happier times, the laughter, the jokes, the love, the smiles. Why remember the date he died?
So I could relive getting that awful call from my mother’s neighbor telling me I should get home fast, that my mother was going to need me? Or that drive up I-95 from my apartment in downtown Philadelphia, trying to convince myself this was just another ER visit? He was OK? Even when I knew he was gone already? Or that terrible moment when I went into that little room with no windows where my mother and brother were waiting for me and I knew before the doctor came in and told us the awful truth?
I only remember the date now, because a few years ago I made the connection it was also my friend MaryEllen’s birthday.
There are those defining moments in our lives when everything becomes the way it was before and the way it was after. Those times when you can’t imagine the world will really move forward. Collectively it is moments like the day JFK was shot or the day the planes hit the twin towers. September 27 became one of those times for me. Life before my father died and life after.
The day of my father’s funeral, my mother sat me down and told me that it was going to be OK. That I would go on and have a good life. I’m not sure at the time, even though I knew I wanted to believe her, I did. But she was right. No matter what happens, we always do move forward. But that never stops us from looking back and remembering.