I USED TO DREAD.
Didn’t matter what the horizon bore. Could be a holiday, an anniversary, an important business call or a random Tuesday night Angels game in April. I would find something to dread, to wish wouldn’t happen, to pray would go away.
The “after” was always fine, but I never took solace in after. The after was erased as soon as it arrived, as if every moment was another exercise in foreboding.
Until I figured out why.
For years – all of them between age eight and age 49 – I took solace in my dad no longer being with us. I told myself that losing all memory of him was a gift, a shield against loss. After all, you can’t miss someone you never knew. I was spared years of pain and just, well, moved on.
Only I wasn’t spared. I moved on in my life but not away from the past.
Dread replaced loss – it occupied that space in my head where acceptance should have been. Somewhere in the rewiring of my eight-year-old brain the ability to learn from the past became a constant fear of the future.
Then in late 2016, my mom died. And something amazing happened.
I remembered her.
Not just the recent history, but every damn thing. I saw it all, could almost reach out and touch the years as if they were branches on a tree. I climbed, and climbed, and remembered more than I thought possible.
And unlike that eight-year-old boy, I was able to grieve. The shield against loss was gone, cracked into countless insignificant shards.
Loss has its place. It’s necessary, I know now. The human experience is nothing without darkness – because if we don’t know the dark, we’ll never recognize the light.
So I won’t dread this Mother’s Day. I won’t dread Father’s Day next month. I won’t celebrate, either. I still can’t do that. But now I will do something even better.
I will remember.