Monday, February 04, 2013

Death's Anniversary

Seems to have been a sweep of the malach hamavet (Angel of Death) in my hood the past few weeks. We're hearing eulogies about people we never expected would fail to make it to their next birthday parties, and it is a little scary. There's something about winter, too, that makes death all the more sad, all the more gray and gloomy.

Therapy is always rich, should be at least, and when a young patient walks in and looks you in the eye and says, "They killed my father in the hospital," you know you're in for angry, pathos-driven story. People go to the hospital because they are sick, some are literally at death's door. Then the slightest error, or fate, or something somehow goes awry, and there we have it, the worst of all possible outcomes.

We could have kept him home for this, they say.

Most of the time it isn't that cut and dried, the fault, the blame. The parents of kids who overdose, for example, never let it go, the thought that they could have done something. They rarely blame anyone else. It is clear, in their heads, that they messed up somewhere along the way. There's no convincing them otherwise, not for that first decade. Time helps, hushes the self-badgering to a whisper. Death and Time, clearly in collusion, buddies.

This happens to be the 43rd anniversary of my brother's untimely death, and the third anniversary of my father's. They died on the same day of the Hebrew calendar. There's no blaming anyone for either passing. Every year, not surprisingly, like clockwork, like most others who have lost loved ones, the week or two before Death's anniversary, I begin to sink. I told someone the other day that the word is pensive, thoughtful, mindful of the meaning of the life of someone who can't answer our questions anymore.

That's what anniversaries are about, thoughts and memories.

And thoughts, we know, are intrinsically tied to emotions, so there you go.

So we light a candle on the anniversary, or two in my case, and say a few special prayers, share a few memories with people who remember.

The memory that comes to my mind is how my father reacted when he saw me dressed up for a wedding.

Last week I bought a new dress for the upcoming marriage of my youngest son. Out of nowhere, driving home from Lord and Taylor, I pictured my father looking at me in the dress with approval, with love, the sight of me a reflection of him, for sure, but warm and happy nevertheless.

My father loved nothing more than this, a celebration for something truly worth celebrating. He loved putting on his tuxedo and dancing, gracefully, at somebody's wedding.

And to be honest, I loved that tux.



lynette said...

therapydoc, may you have a peaceful day of remembering your loved ones.

this past year has been one of great losses for me -- a divorce, my oldest child leaving for college, my mother passing away without warning on my birthday, my older sister passing away without warning...

all life events, in a four month span.

sometimes there is no one to blame, not even God.

Peace and healing to you.

therapydoc said...

Thanks so much, Lynette! I'm fine, seriously.

Lorri M said...

I feel the same way a week or two before the anniversary of my father and mother's deaths. My father died at age 46...

One wonderful thing about the day he was born, my grandie girlie was born the same day five years ago.

My mother died on Veteran's Day..a veteran of her illnesses.

May warmth flow through you.

Hughes ap Williams said...

In just over ten years nine members of our immediate families have died, including all four of our parents.

For some reason as the death count mounts I am sad, but not totally depressed. I cry and grieve, but I move on more quickly with each loss. Do we become more accepting of death as we age? Or more philosophical?

Anyone else notice this?

therapydoc said...

Thanks, Lori, Isn't all of that just amazing?

Hughes, that's a terrible run! I feel we get used to it, in some part of our head, and oh for sure, can philosophize because we have that gift of looking back, living through it and then living through it again. This is why I can't help but anthropomorphise death. It's like a person that keeps coming over and you're saying, Would you mind leaving? Seriously. Find some other party to crash.

Meansomething said...

Love your blog so much, and this is a post I needed to read today. Sending you thanks, and wishing you much comfort.

therapydoc said...

Thanks. So happy when someone relates!

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Inspirational Sayings About Life said...

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Better Things-- Seeing Ghosts