Today is May 1st. May is an anniversary month. No, not a wedding anniversary – it is the month in which my Dad died. On May 20 it will have been 7 years since I’ve had the chance to talk to my Dad, give him a hug, tell him I love him and joke with him. I miss him all the time but when May comes around the missing him that was there in the back recesses of my mind comes to the forefront – right to the centre of my thoughts and my life. No, it is not as intense as it used to be but it still affects my days. What I miss most is not being able to tell him all the things that have been going on in my life. I was never able to tell him of the incredible experience it was for me to be librarian at the brand new school and how I set the library up myself and how it was the best two years of my whole 33 years in the school system. I couldn’t tell him that I retired after struggling so hard for so long to work and be a “normal” person with a job. I couldn’t tell him that I now work in the Public Library system and I look after the library at my church. He’s never met my new cat, Gus Gus and does not know of all the crazy things he has done. And most of all, he doesn’t know that Mom has lived with me the last 3 and a half years and that I am keeping the promise I made to him on his death bed – to look after Mom in the best way possible.
What is it about anniversary grief that is like a sore that just keeps opening up and oozing. Does it ever heal? I don’t know. Actually I hope not. Anniversary grief for me is a way of never forgetting. I have always been very sensitive to anniversaries of all kinds. Dates and events in my life hold such meaning that they are played over and over each year like a broken record. Even if my conscious mind forgets the anniversary, my unconscious mind will react and I will realize with surprise why I was crying or feeling down. I don’t know if this is an autism thing or not. I just know my brain runs in sort of a groove year round with different things coming to the forefront at the precise time each year. A sense of order even in my memories, categorized by date, severity, and a number of other slots they fit into.
Anniversary grief also for me has a sense of anticipation to it. With Dad, I dread May 20th getting closer and closer and I think it will be a horrible day in some way. In reality, it usually turns out to be a fairly regular day. The anticipation is far worse than the actual event. I know this but somehow it doesn’t really help. And when the day is over there is a relief that I got through that dreaded event.
I need to make a plan. I need to make a plan to do something positive on May 20th. I could work in my flower garden, the garden that is a memorial garden to my Dad who loved to garden and plant flowers. I could write him a little letter telling him of all the things I wish I could say to him. I could buy a can of peanuts and munch away at them. I always gave Dad a can of peanuts for Christmas because he loved them. The trick was to wrap it in such a way that he did not know what it was! I could phone my Uncle John and tell him I love him ( that’s Dad’s brother) because I do love him bunches and bunches. Maybe if I think about doing some of these things the knot in the pit of my stomach that gets tighter and tighter as the month goes on may just instead loosen it’s grip and wrap around the oozing sore and send some healing to the grief. It’s worth a try don’t you think?