Tomorrow will mark seven years since my father's death. I will wake early and go with my mom to the cemetery where we will place flowers on his grave. If I'm strong enough, I'll take out the little red photo album where I store all my pictures of him. I'll remember our life together. I'll try to make the beauty blot out the horror of losing him but the two will have to coexist. My mind has eroded over time, which means many of my memories of the day he died are blurred and fragmented but, nonetheless, they play on a continuous loop, like a film that never ends. I keep wanting to start the reel over, thinking I can change the outcome and save him.
I've dreaded tomorrow for a month and now it's coming no matter what I say or do. It is the day I touched a darkness that I cannot speak of. I define my life before and after that day, it is the demarcation, the end of one world and the beginning of another. For so long, I could only think of that day. Over time, I've tried to shift my concentration away from his death. He is not his death. We are not our deaths. There was so much more to him than that day in May when his body lay in front of me so pale and lifeless. I want to remember his arms around me, his voice when he said "sweet dreams" to me every night, the joy on his face as he listened to music, the scent of his cologne, how he taught me to play tennis, how big his smile was, his love and respect for my mother. He is gone but those memories cannot be taken away.
We are what we have lost, but we are also what remains.
Tonight, I told my mother We'll get through it together
And we will.
We need to remember life even in the midst of death. We need to hold on to one another, be there, offer compassion and support. We need to cry together, but also laugh; that's so important. Everything we feel is important. We're here to feel and love and connect.