Number Noodlings and Doodlings

By Emma Pearson

April 20, 2024

Photo (*) by Chris Linnett on Unsplash

5 March 2024

For a non-mathematician, I have a canny way with numbers. Or perhaps it’s simply the patterns in the numbers that I like. For I do love patterns of most kinds – especially the people-pattern kind, but that’s another story.

My dad has a childhood bestie who was born on 03.01.1938.

03.01 as in the third of January. Not March the first.

He was born in Huddersfield.

My dad’s childhood bestie became my dad’s brother-in-law, but only after my dad married my mother, because my dad’s friend had already married my mother’s twin. And so this childhood bestie transformed into brother-in-law and later father to a few children who became cousins to me and my siblings once my parents had a few children. The bestie capably took on the role of uncle.

My dad, meanwhile, was born on 01.03.1938.

01.03 as in the first of March. Not January the third.

He was also born in Huddersfield.

(That’s right – he’s just had a birthday – for he is still alive).

Oh the rippling excitement, the exciting ripples of glee, that bubbled through me when, probably as a teenager, I first noticed the number pattern. How incredible! How amazing! How delightful to have a bestie whose date numbers were the same as your own. Forever connected in space and time and numbers. These men, both still alive, now 86 years young, connected through these numbers. Of course, their connection goes much deeper and broader than these numbers and where they were born, but I love the numbers part. I know that I remember my uncle’s birthday because it’s the same digits as my dad’s birthday. I don’t know that anyone else pays the remotest bit of attention to it – perhaps not even the men themselves. Did they even see this pattern before I brought it to their attention? If they did, it didn’t seem worthy of any enthusiastic glee. But I find it fascinating. Moving. Meaningful. Even though I know it’s just random coincidence stuff. There’s some magic touch that I like to linger with.

I too am connected that way. With Mike. And probably a few gazillion other people too, but Mike is the one that matters to me.

For sure there are differences.

For starters, we were not born in the same year.

Nor were we born in the same town – though we were born in the same country.

There’s a limit to the number of viable birthdate patterns if you’re born on the 27th of a month. Which both Mike and I were. But that was already a lovely little connection. But then to have the whole set of dates mirroring magically – I loved it!

Our birth numbers concocted to connect across time and space and place.

His digits being 27.07.1963.

Mine being 27.03.1967. (Yes – birthday coming up – inshallah! Always inshallah!)

Numbers that magically dance around and settle into patterns.

Patterns of love, friendship and enduring connection.

Way beyond death. Oh yes – death.

Of course, I’ve already done some wondering and noodling about “what if the numbers in Mike’s death date are also mine to die into?” And yes, of course, I have even written about it. And because I notice number patterns, I just happened to write it on day 500 of being widowed. I mean really, who else would know? Many many many Grieflings would. I also knew day 1000 when it came, by which time Julia had also died. I felt every one of those 500 days, those 1000 days, and ongoing.

There are some tough lines in the text, even if some of the writing is also playful. Julia was still alive – though she would only be alive for ten more months. I can sense myself bracing against more future loss. Knowing, somehow, deep down, that it would come.

The comforting discomfort, the discomforting comfort, of number patterns. Markers of moments, of lives, that matter.

(*) photo of daffodils…for St David’s Day, 1st March (duh!)

About Emma Pearson

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