CommemobratingBy Emma Pearson
November 30, 2023
Photos my own
6 July 2021
I survived last week.
I survived 30 June and 1 July.
I survived the two year “deathiversary” of Julia’s death.
Forever split across a date line, two days of the week, two dates, two months, even two quarters.
Because from when I “know” she took her life, to when she was “officially” pronounced dead, hours passed.
Midnight came and went.
Sunday turned into Monday.
June turned into July.
Q2 turned into Q3.
And this year, Wednesday 30th June came and evolved into Thursday 1st July.
And I survived.
And it was far from all bad.
Some of it was delightful and beautiful and enjoyable. Against a backdrop of amazing scenery. Against a horrifying backdrop of still not getting it. Of the horror of Julia not being alive that is the truth, the reality, I still cannot fathom.
I live in two planes. Probably more than two. But two when it comes to Julia. The functioning, get-on-with-life plane. And the incomprehensible, unfathomable, unreal-reality-of-her-gone-ness plane.
Last Wednesday I was in and out of the two planes, as I usually am.
I had concocted a beautiful plan with the lovely Laraba to have a full day out, celebrating and commemorating Julia.
Commemobrating. A new word.
Celebrating being alive
Celebrating Julia and her gifts to us while she was alive, and the legacy and memories she left
Celebrating moment by moment choices to “be in this life now”, to “be in this moment now”, to live life fully despite and because of how hard it can be
Celebrating the precious children I have who are alive
Celebrating friendships and love from people who miss Julia or Mike as much as I do
And honouring, Commemorating, memories, grief, loss, death
Honouring that Julia tried her damnedest, and just couldn’t stay
Trying to make space for that truth, her subjective truth, that it was too hard
And Commemorating her fiery will and passion to live for as long as she did
Her sheer guts and will-power
Laraba, Megan and I went on a road trip together. (Ben was not available, or he would have joined).
Out from Geneva towards Vevey. First to a very chic restaurant overlooking Lac Leman/Lake Geneva on a stunningly beautiful day. Then for a walk around the steep, mountainside vineyards that are prevalent in the Canton de Vaud. And then, for late afternoon and into the early evening, to a Buddhist monastery high above the lake, where Laraba had arranged for us to participate in a Puja, a ceremony with rituals, chanting and offerings.
It lasted just over an hour and was both moving and soothing, as anything that has a ritualistic – or honouring – flavour tends to have. Over recent years, I have become more intentional in shifting multiple “routines” into “rituals” – from playing the piano, stroking the dog or the cat, sitting with my first frothy coffee of the day, doing my Yoga practice, preparing for a client meeting, or simply going to bed. The shift from “routine” to “ritual” brings presence and significance to everything.
And the Puja, the ceremony and chanting, the incense and hand movements, the bells and percussion, enabled me to be there, be with the Buddhist monks, with myself, with Laraba and Megan, and with Julia and Mike.
It was a “good” day. Lots of Celebrating. Lots of Commemorating too.
The next day, as I caught up on emails, I found a message from one of Julia’s friends from the psychiatric centre where she had spent her last weeks. As last year on 30th June, three friends had come to where we live, to where Julia took her life, to the tree that they chose to designate a place for remembering, and celebrated and commemorated her.
I went by there yesterday. As ever, it is a beautiful offering. And as ever, it is horrible. Horrendous. Unreal.
Commemobrating is hard work. Daily work. It feels the right thing to do, even if I am no closer to “getting” it.
Some things just are too big to fathom.
And require new words because existing words don’t do justice to the experience.
So Commemobrating is where I am at.
And thank you to Laraba and Megan, and Julia’s friends too, for honouring the day – with me, for me, and for yourselves.
I love you, Jubee, and miss you so very, very much.