“Susan and Stephen want us all to come for brunch on Tuesday,” say my friend Liz and her daughter, Nicole, over the phone on Friday.
“I can’t. I have my class on Tuesday,” I say.
“Well how about breakfast on Monday then?” Liz asks.
“No, I can’t on Monday.”
“Whatcha got going on Monday?” she pushes.
“Monday’s the second anniversary of Marika’s dying. I don’t want to do a get-together with people then. It’s the wrong kind of energy,” I say.
“Well what ARE you doing for Monday?” she prods.
“I haven’t really figured it out yet. Something quiet, reflective, alone. Light candles. Walk with Suki around the pond? I don’t know yet. Maybe a campfire, yeah, she loved campfires.”
“Well let me know how we can help,” Liz says.
“You wanna help me build a campfire?”
“In the snow?” she laughs nervously knowing I’m serious.
“Yeah. A campfire in the snow. A little warmth in all the wet and cold. I don’t know,” I say sensing a mutual doubt about this proposal. “I need to think. With March 4th coming up I’ve been worried and confused for days. There’s no way I’m gonna be fit for company on Monday,” I end the conversation.
It is my season of hailstorms and hurricanes, this 2 ½ month period from March 4th to Mothers’ Day. In between those dates fall my birthday and Marika’s. These are all opportunities to wallow in misery and close off the world. My mind whirls painfully as I try to sort out what this day really means and how I should commemorate it. What keeps coming up is my Aunt Bertha. My favorite aunt lost her husband on her birthday over forty years ago. To this day, during the entire month of August, she refuses to let us visit her or wish her well. She has kept mostly to herself for almost half a century, feeding on little other than her immense sorrow.
The day my daughter died was the worst day in both our lives. It’s a date I’ll never be able to forget but why should I celebrate this day? The only good thing about it was the kindness, the support, of so many friends. I would never have come through that day and the past two years without my friends.
“Hey Nicole,” I call back. Did you and Liz finalize a day for the breakfast or brunch yet? Because I think a breakfast with friends is EXACTLY what I need on Monday.”
So today, in recognition of the day two years ago when I lost Marika but found my caring community, I sat by the pond, remembering the good things about Marika and my life with her. And then I took Suki to breakfast with Liz and Nicole at Susan and Stephen’s house. My friends, Barb and Jan, took me out for lunch with Brie. I took Marika’s friend Rachel and her new wife out for sushi dinner. And in between, because the assignment in photo class this week was to take 70 pictures of people in their environments, I went to Dennis and Virginia’s and Dan and Celia’s with my camera, counting friends, counting my blessings.