It looks like I have survived the month I dreaded, the month of too many anniversaries too close together. Not without a few new scars, but it’s over at least. The fates seem to run cruel in this month for a reason I can’t fathom. May should be one of the best months of the year, but this one has been a doozey, and we have had too many others like it. In 1999 we lost Tom on the 21st, on our sixteenth wedding anniversary, no less. In 2010 we lost Mom on the fourteenth. This year we lost Kris on the 13th, then, just to top it all off, my father’s brother and Bev’s brother, both on the 24th. Enough already.
But although May is riddled with all those losses, it is also the month we got married. It’s the month my parents got married. It’s the month my niece got married five years ago on the 24th, and this year, on the 27th, she gave birth to a daughter.
When I talked to my brother about a week after his wife died, he was ready to write off the month of May, permanently. The whole family has been expressing that sentiment, and not without some reason. I told him he could lose the day, but not the whole month of May, not forever. May is too good a month to leave to nothing but sorrow.
Fourteen years ago, after we lost my older brother on our anniversary, we were ready to give up on it, move it to another day. It took us a while, but we took that day back. Four years later we took that trip to New York, and started that crazy theater binge, that big pile of weekends that I now look back on as the substitute for retirement together we didn’t get.
It goes back to that Doctor Who episode she loved so much. Life is a pile of good things and a pile of bad things. We can’t do anything to shrink the pile of bad things, but we can keep adding to the good pile. Eventually, we can even the score, but only if we keep trying.
May is still May, no matter how much falls into the bad pile. May is the month of commencements, of the end of things that we will always miss, but also the beginning of new things. The lilacs may be done, but the irises are still going strong and the first of the daylillies are blooming. People are falling in love, babies are being born.
Six months in, at the end of my first semester of grief, in this crazy college town, it seems like it is time for a progress report. Once again, I find a few lines from a lyric to sum it up better than I ever could:And you find some way to survive. And you find out you don’t have to be happy at all, to be happy you’re alive.
Done, and Done.