Remembering – and Forgetting – DatesBy Emma Pearson
September 22, 2023
Image courtesy of Sarah Treanor @ streanor.com
Megan Devine Prompt from WYG course asking us to reflect on the experience of first noticing when we are not counting every single day since our person died….
30 September 2019
As I type down the date just now, it screams back at me. SCREAMS!
30th of the month! Julia was born on a 30th. Julia died on a 30th. (Even though her death certificate says she died on the 1st July, she died on the 30th June).
Julia was born on 30th March 2004.
Such beauty and balance with all those zeros in her date of birth, which, side by side, look like the infinity symbol.
Almost like a “what comes next?” question in a numerical reasoning test. I’d have to hazard a guess that 1005 comes next, but others might say that 2 is not a pattern. “Not enough data”. That three is a pattern. Not two.
I don’t know what to make of patterns any more. I have had four deaths, not three, not two, not one. Four too many. I don’t care for patterns any more.
Things don’t come in threes after all.
And there is much less balance, much more chaos, in her date of death.
30.06.2019. There is no smooth flowing of digits there. I don’t see any pattern. I don’t want to.
1.7.2019 doesn’t make sense either.
Nothing about her date of death makes any sense.
Nothing about her death makes any sense.
Today, early evening, after school ending time, a good friend of Julia’s and her mum came round to say hello. They said that they wanted to pass by on this “impossible day”.
I genuinely wondered aloud “what’s so special about today?” The mum shrugged her shoulders awkwardly, perhaps embarrassed that maybe she had “reminded me” that Julia had died.
Well, of course I had not forgotten. But I had forgotten the date. The specific date today. HOW?
I have been in bed much of today. Getting up for a phone call at 3pm only. And still then not putting in my contact lenses, which is my threshold for really “being up”. I barely got out of my PJs and only did because my dog was barking and I thought I’d need to go outside.
Within a minute of the friends’ arrival, complete with a bunch of dried red roses and three love letters to me and to her, I remembered.
Of course. 30th September. 3 months to the day since Julia died. And she would have been exactly 15 ½. As a family we celebrated – sort of celebrated – ½ year birthdays with the kids. Nothing special. Just a brief acknowledging of the date. “Happy 13 ½. Happy 14 ½. Happy 15 ½”. Just a few days ago, on the 27th, I silently wished myself a Happy 52 ½. Habit.
I don’t know how I forgot.
That this mum and friend remembered touched me deeply. I don’t want to feel embarrassed that I “sort of forgot”. I think I did forget in my head. But my body has known for days. I have spent more and more time in bed this past week. Not getting up till well past midday quite often.
I am horrified that it seems I had forgotten to count. Forgotten to notice that it’s been three fat months. 92 days to be exact.
My head forgot what day it is.
My body knew what day it is.
My heart knew what day it is.
My heart has been hurting more and more heavily, painfully for days.
It’s a heavy stone that doesn’t even seem to beat. Just hurts and hurts hard.
Turns out it’s not a bashed, deflated pink balloon after all.