Friday, May 16, 2008

Anniversaries and how they should be used

5 PM today (Central Daylight Time) will mark the 10th anniversary of my father's death. I know the exact time because I was at his side, holding his hand as he breathed his last, as was most of my family.

Let me rush to say I am not sad about this: my father had a long and generally healthy life marred only by a week of terrible illness at the end, illness I was able to share and help to mitigate. I don't mourn him daily. In fact, I don't even think of him as 'gone'. He's simply 'not around', I guess.

But anniversaries of this type serve a useful purpose in that they mark the passing of time, allowing us to pause and look back at a benchmark or spot and say, 'wow. I've done this since then' or 'I can't believe that happened.'

In the world in the last 10 years:

  • countless (and I mean that literally: I've lost count) storms, hurricanes, cylones, earthquakes, floods and other disasters resulting in millions of deaths.
  • 9/11 (which changed much of how we view the world)
  • a war (in progress) and others still raging (civil and otherwise)
  • jobs lost and found (I was laid off and found a new job; my sister retired; my other sister had her company downsized but stuck with the little version which resulted; my nieces have since found their niches in the world)
  • other deaths (my ex-husband died [no comment on poetic justice that he died relatively young]; my ex-brother-in-law died;)
  • deaths avoided (a dear friend who has successfully beat breast cancer; a dear friend who survived a terrible heart attack)
  • assorted accomplishments (I've seen 5 books published, have contracts for 5 more)

You see how 'accomplishments' pale in comparison to other events? Don't get me wrong, I'm damn proud of those books and what they represent. But every now and then it's good to step back and look over my shoulder and see where I was, where I am now, and where I might be ahead. It's an interesting journey -- life -- and death will probably be an equally interesting journey, as well. Sometimes it's nice to pause and just reflect on that.

At 5:00 today I plan to hoist a glass to my father (cocktail hour always began promptly at 5:00 PM in our house) and spend a few moments remembering family vacations, little jokes, fun Father's Days spent together, and other memories. Then I'm going to get working on making the next 10 years of memories.


Mechele Armstrong said...

It's always interesting to look back.

May the toast go well.

My father passed away a few months after yours did. It will be 10 years ago in June. Everytime I think of him, and I still miss him, I smile. I hope I'm remembered that way by someone when I go.

N.J.Walters said...

It's amazing how much happens in a decade and how quickly the time can go by.

My father has been gone for 25 years. Like in your situation, all the immediate family was there when he died. For that, I will always be grateful.

He was only 45 when he passed, and as I approach that age myself, I truly understand just how young he was when he died. I'm thankful for every day I live, knowing each one is a gift.