Monday, January 11, 2010

33 years is a long time.

** I wrote this a year ago. It's now been 34 years, and the feelings are still the same. The only thing which has changed is that I've now been to 2 funerals, not just one. I'm hoping that's not a yearly trend. Thanks for reading, or re-reading. **

This morning as I was checking the fridge-mounted calendar, and my desk calendar, and the electronic calendar application on my computer, it dawned on me. Today is January 11.

Years tend to shrink and expand in relation to your milestones. Some anniversaries stack up rapidly, like those pesky birthdays - especially the ones ending in zero.

If you're talking life span, thirty-three years is not a long time. It's probably about the age when most adults are "grown up" enough to know where their lives are going. It's no where near middle age in terms of the life span of most people nowadays. At thirty-three you've likely met, and possibly married, your significant other. Maybe you've bought a home. A car (or several). Found your niche in the world.

In terms of marriage, thirty-three years means quite a bit more. It is a remarkable milestone. My parents have passed the 33 year mark and moved well past it. I hope to do so myself.

When measuring the years passed since the loss of a loved one, time is a strange concept. Thirty-three years ago today, my parents said goodbye to their daughter, my sister, at the age of barely 4 months old. She was born with a heart defect and did not survive the attempt to repair her tiny body.

I was only six years old, and yet I can still remember how strange it felt to have a baby sister one day, and none the next. Hers is the only funeral I have ever attended. I still recall seeing her tiny body in the casket and wishing I could make her wake up. I can't begin to imagine where my mother found the strength to come back to her three living children after burying one.

My second child shares her middle name. When my third child was born, I saw a physical resemblance I was almost afraid to acknowledge.

Every year on September 17, I think of how excited my sisters and I were to have a new baby in the house. And four months later, on January 11, today, I miss her.