Sunday, March 1, 2009

On What a Difference a Day Makes

Most dates on the calendar are of little significance to me. Sure, there are some happy dates – birthdays, holidays, and the like. And there are some sad dates – February 26th, among others. But there are few that are both. For me, March 1st is one of them.

March 1, 2007 was the date of my wife’s wake. In the area of the Southeast in which I reside, that’s what they call it. In the Midwest, where I grew up and she is buried, they refer to it as a calling or viewing. Whatever the word, this date marked the first of two such events.

About a year before she died, we passed one of our local cemeteries as we often did when we were out and about. For some reason that day, she turned to me and said “I don’t want to be buried in this town”. She was mostly joking, but there was a hint of seriousness behind her words. At that point, the possibility of her dying at a young age was as far from my mind as a spaceship landing in my back yard. It just wasn’t something that was bound to happen. So I agreed half-heartedly that I would not bury her in this town. Which is why we had only a wake here.

I made arrangements for my daughter to stay with a friend’s aunt during the wake so that she would not have to be a part of something so difficult for any mind to wrap itself around, let alone one that was barely three years old. That morning she and I had our own private time with her, and that night she was much more content going to a local school carnival where my friend’s aunt was a teacher at the time.

It was lovely, as far as a wake can be anyway. The room was full of people who knew and loved my wife, my daughter, and me. It was amazing to me to see how many lives she had touched in just 4 ½ years here. But then again, it wasn’t. She had a certain spark that drew people to her and made her instantly likeable.

Nonetheless, I was relieved when it was over. One down, one to go. One 800 mile journey between them.

Because of the significance of February 26th, I do not dwell so much on this date for the events that occurred on it in 2007. I do, however, dwell on it for a different reason.

In many ways, March 1st has become a symbol of hope for me.

I hate to see February on the calendar. I hate to write it on documents. I hate to think about it being February every day for 28 and sometimes 29 days in a row each year. Were it not for my daughter’s birthday, I would be happy if the entire month of February was removed from our calendar.

So to me, March 1st is a somewhat welcome sight. And even though it holds some deeply sad reminders, I have chosen instead to take notice of the happier ones.

Namely that it’s no longer February.


  1. Truly, the calendar is a vile and heartless beast in its behaviour to the bereaved. It keeps coming round, and there's just nothing you can do to stop it.

    In the end, whatever the occasion, it's just a day. You'll get through it, somehow. And once you've done it once, you know how it will feel, more or less. It'll hurt, but you can beat it.

    That's no sweetly fragrant or instantly efficient solution. But over time, it works.

    Spirits up. Best wishes and all encouragement to you and your daughter, from London.

  2. Roads- Thank you for the words of encouragement.