I’m getting good at doing ordinary. So good at it that someone actually said to me a few weeks ago: “I thought you were all better.” Good job, eh? So I had an ordinary day. Worked in the morning, had my weekly lunch with Nick, doctor’s appointment with my husband, dinner, and a bit of grocery shopping to end the day. Everything was ordinary in my office today too. Business as usual. No one mentioned and I gave no indication that one year ago today my son’s funeral was held.
I knew today was going to be a bad day. I didn’t work last Wednesday, April 30. I’ll never work another April 30 in my life. That day has become Ben’s day. But I can’t take off every day that I know is going to be a rough day, so I was at work.
You know, you can talk to me and it seems as if I am there. But I’m not all there. Or always there. I can give you an appropriate response, but I bob in and out. Most of the time what you say to me registers, at least fleetingly, but then I go back into my psychic cocoon where every thought is “Ben”. It’s like a big roll of movie film that keeps playing in my head. His life. My pain. There’s always a thought of Ben playing in my head, in the background, while the rest of the world swirls around me.
I spent a good chunk of the day, when I did not have to participate, thinking about how life changes. Joys and sorrows. May has always been a special month. I met my husband on May 10 and we got married on May 16 six years later. And there’s Mother’s Day. But I was thinking about early May last year. While those around me probably assumed I was doing fine (because I’m getting good at doing ordinary), I was thinking about contrasts.
May 10, 1975 – My husband and I met on a blind date. I don’t have any pictures from that day, but I do have the shirt he wore on our first date nearly 4 decades ago. I saved that shirt, like I’ve saved so many things that have sentimental value to me.
May 7, 1995 – My son Ben was 9 and made his First Communion on this day, which date jumped out at me one day last summer when I was looking at some pictures and some of my kids’ “stuff” that I had saved. I came across the church program for Ben’s First Communion. I remember sitting on the floor–seeing the date, May 7, sent me “there”, that place that has become the crushing zone since Ben died. I have a lot of pictures from May 7, 1995, that joyous day, as well as the program, one of the invitations and a napkin from Ben’s party, the decoration from his cake top and the crafts he had made in PSR in the months leading up to his First Communion. Sentimental value.
May 7, 2013 – My son Ben was 27 and his funeral was held in the same church on the same day as his First Communion had been…. only 18 years later. I don’t have any pictures from May 7, 2013. I don’t want any. I don’t need any. Memories from that day have been chiseled upon my heart. The funeral home. The church. The hearse leaving the church and me running out onto the sidewalk to watch my 27-year old baby being taken away, away from me, down the same street that I had driven down hundreds of times with Ben in the car with me. I don’t need any pictures from that day. I remember.
May 10, 2013 – The funeral home called to tell me Ben’s ashes had been returned, 38 years to the day that my husband and I had met on a blind date. Who would have envisioned such sorrow? Back in 1975, I was simply infatuated with the boy I had just met and ignorant of the sorrows of the world. I don’t have any pictures from May 10, 2013. I don’t want any. I will forever remember returning from the funeral home and having to be “carried” into our house as I brought Ben’s ashes home. 38 years to the day that his dad and I had met.
Contrasts. Joys and sorrows. Cruel reality playing over and over in my head. I try to convince myself that I am “getting better”….I’m not going mad……all while I am getting good at doing ordinary.