An audible groan escapes my body as I turn the page on the calendar.
You’d never know it was Fall in Southern California based on the heat we have been experiencing. That coupled with the heavy emotion that accompanies October, it is has become my least favorite month of the year.
The anniversary of my parents deaths always evokes powerful memories of the feelings and events surrounding the early morning hours of October 15, 2007 and the days that followed. I can recall in great detail where I was, what I was doing and even what I was wearing the night my sister called to tell me they had died. Although I have never worn them again, I still own those pajamas. I can’t seem to part with them.
I remember being grateful for all the tasks at hand so that I wouldn’t just sit and cry. There were many scheduled overseas phone calls, the repatriation of my parents bodies, obtaining toxicology reports and death certificates. Not only did I feel like I was in the middle of my worst nightmare, but the pages of a crime novel.
We had to locate their will to ensure their wishes were met, contact and meet with a funeral home, write two obituaries, read through countless condolence e-mails and field questions from family and friends. There was so much to do and I had never felt that level of exhaustion before.
I also remember waking up for days with tear stained cheeks and also not really being able to look anyone in the eye for fear of completely losing it.
Seven years later, it is still hard to speak of my mom and dad in the past tense. There are things about them that have grown fuzzy and many I’ll never forget. Bittersweet memories have become part of my life, they are woven into the very marrow of my being and the sadness is permanent and irrevocable.
I’m grateful it is not the first thing on my mind when I wake up in the morning anymore. And yet, at least a dozen times a day it crosses my mind. More so in October.
I find ways of working them into conversations as I attempt to hold on to them and to help my son know them as I did. Of course, I realize that will be my lifelong struggle. And now that I’m a parent, I wonder if I ever really knew them myself. I always miss them.
Grief gets better, more manageable over time. I have learned to live with it as it comes and goes and I know the path toward healing and finding peace is a long one.
Especially in October.