It feels like I’m cramming for a final exam now.  Your death day approaches.  It was the worst day of my life- in close competition with the wake.  But it will not be the most powerful day of my life- I decide that.

I read a poem a few weeks ago by W.S. Merwin entitled, “For the Anniversary of My Death”

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day   
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveler
Like the beam of a lightless star

Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what.
It’s strange and somewhat comforting to me that we all have a birth day and a death day and we pass, not only the birthday, but also the death day- each year.  

I ask a few widows further out what I should do to prepare and also what they did at the memorials or if they even did any.  I feel like I’m foraying into completely unknown territory.  So far I’ve sent out the invites to the graveside service and gathering at the pub.  But that’s about it.  Friends email saying they can help but I’ve probably got most of the details already done.  But I don’t.  

One widow tells me to be patient with myself and not worry about getting everything right- that there is no place for that in this kind of thing.  

She also tells me I should do something that celebrates me.  “Here’s why: On the one hand, I couldn’t believe that he was gone for a whole year.  On the other hand, I was amazed that *I* was still standing.  That I had survived 365 days of sadness/depression/abandonment, you name it.  And that in itself is something to celebrate.”  

2 thoughts on “Cramming”

  1. Thank you for this. Love the viewpoint of passing our own death date each year. It brings some perspective. And yes, surviving 365 days is indeed something to celebrate. As another widower told me today "fact is, you've been constantly reminded of it for 365 days." Something nobody else can even begin to understand- unless you've unfortunately been there. Hoping for some peace for you tonight.

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