Friday, July 3, 2009

Three hundred and sixty-five days.

Oddly, it seems common that many of "us" have spent at least one holiday struggling at the hospital or at home in no shape to celebrate it. And that was our situation, more than once. We spent one Christmas, and two New Year's Eves in the hospital or in recovery. It didn't matter, occasions such as those paled in comparison to our reasons for missing them but it is challenging to find one's self facing those holidays again under different circumstances. And this year, this weekend, marks an anniversary I hoped I'd never live to see. Alan passed away in the early hours of July 5th, 2008, and in all honesty I can't say I remember ever doing anything remarkable on the Fourth of July. But what I do remember, painfully, is the sound of fireworks in the distant night, echoing as the Fourth turned into the Fifth - wishing, hoping and praying that the night nor the day to come would be the day. So what I dread this time around, besides the obvious, is hearing those sounds again - the crackle, the snaps, the pregnant silence in between explosive moments. Sense memory is powerful and I wonder how I'll manage through the night. I look forward to sharing the history and sparkle with Lily someday, and perhaps then the holiday will regain it's intended significance. But I know that deep down, the date will be forever etched on my heart, and it will always have a different meaning for me.

The thing I wonder most about is how will Lily think of her father? How will she remember the man she never knew, how will she commemorate his passing, what will moments like these feel like to her and how will she feel knowing what he meant to me... I intend to shower her with details, regale her with stories, identify his traits in her character, show her where he appears in her distinctive features. Her life is already filled with people who loved Alan and that Alan loved, so I feel confident that as we reminisce about his beauty, his humor, his kindness, his warmth and generosity, those facets of his character will be illustrated for her ~ passed on to her in bedtime hours, greeting her in waking moments, shared over hot dogs, told to her while making cookies, preserved for her in letters and whispered into her ears in quiet moments. She studies his photos already, and studies her surroundings just as he did. I have no doubt that Alan's presence will always infuse the air we breathe, and in all of the nature that fills our world but losing him, in the physical sense, has left a void I struggle with hourly. So as the Fourth approaches, I fear the sound of fireworks and their celebratory cheer that so obliviously ushers in the Fifth. I'm told that often the anticipation is much greater than the actual anniversary. If that's the case, I'll be relieved. Because today and yesterday and the year that's led up to this weekend has been painfully raw; as though every nerve in my body was exposed. I shudder to think of where I'd be if it weren't for Lily Alan. I'm not sure I would have made it through the days. So this weekend it's she that I'll celebrate. And as I do everyday, I'll thank Alan for his love, and reflect upon how unselfishly he shared his final days with his family and friends, never once complaining about the unfairness of it all. There was such a sparkle in his eyes when I told him I had heard the baby's heartbeat - perhaps it was enough for him to know that someone, soon, would be here to help rescue all of us from the sadness, or at least to help move us forward, gently, through the grief.

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