The gray sky on this March morning is about as lifeless as the gray sweatshirt I just put on. Even though there have been moments recently when the slant of the sun and the warmth in the air brought that indescribable feeling that spring will soon be here, today is not one of those days. Scattered remnants of dirty snow can be seen outside my windows and there is no sign of new life hibernating in the earth or the trees. The weather report promises that spring will be in the air tomorrow—60 and partly sunny—but even that hopeful whisper of new life is diluted by the sorrow that comes this time every year when the calendar page is flipped to the month of March.
My sweet little nephew Cameron should be turning 16 years old tomorrow, but he will remain forever 5 years and 5 days old, taken way too soon by a sudden illness which the doctors failed to diagnose until it was too late. Eleven long years he’s been gone…what an unimaginable length of time to live without that sweet little boy who should be excitedly jumping behind the wheel of a car all by himself tomorrow and speeding toward a new life.
In addition to coming upon the 11-year mark of Cameron’s death this week, March 15 will mark 11 years that Grandma left us and two years ago yesterday that Mom went to meet her loved ones. Though both of them had been afflicted by Alzheimer’s Disease and thus had been lured toward their ultimate destinations during the years leading up to these dates, the pain is exponentially increased by remembering them. Why is it that some people are blessed with both healthy bodies and healthy minds well into old age while others are taken from us too soon, either by them forgetting the lives they were once inextricably woven into or the failing of their earthly bodies? Why?
So, I sit here quietly, in reflection. I’ve spent the last few hours on this dreary morning doing some spring cleaning in my son Nick’s bedroom. Though all of the “stuff” in the boxes and in the closet was Nick’s stuff, I could not “Stop remembering!!” that the bedroom I was cleaning was Ben’s bedroom for many, many years. Oh, the memories that rushed at me. Pure torture having memories flung at you from every direction hour after hour. It took extraordinary strength to endure the “I remember’s” and the “if only’s” that repeatedly assaulted me as I sorted through item after item.
I have no desire to get up and do anything. I want to sit here on this gray March morning and allow my thoughts to dwell on what I actually call the March Mourning, that time each year when we all replay the blow-by-blow of those traumatic days of losing Cameron and our grandmother and mother. I know my family members are like me, so I know those moments of terror and great sorrow are carved into their psyches. Even though years have now passed, it seems like each hour of these March days brings back an accurate and intense instant replay of the horror that unfolded during those days when we realized that Cameron and then our grandmother and our mother would no longer walk this earth with us.
So, spring will be in the air tomorrow! But my mind, and the minds of my family members, won’t be exuberant even if that indescribable aura of spring floats in the air. Our senses will be dulled by the persistent March mourning that comes year after year. Though I don’t wish to speak for others, I believe that when tomorrow arrives with the hint of spring in the air and the promise that new life will inevitably follow, any breath of fresh spring air will forever be diluted and dulled by thoughts of loss and death.
It’s quite shocking how much control and power those little blocks on the page of a calendar exert over us. After these days of March have sulked away, the page will be turned to April, the month of Ben’s death. Where does one find the strength and how does one retain the desire to go on when year after year we know that certain dates on the calendar pages cut deeply into us…cut into the place where the sorrow burrows deeper and deeper into our hearts with each passing day?
The calendar on the wall tells me it is March 6, 2016. I want to scream, “Liar! Liar! TIME DOES NOT HEAL ALL WOUNDS!”
This March Mourning…
And then April comes.