In search of story



My Uncle George was the dearest man in the world. His first wife, my pretty Aunt Mary, died of breast cancer in 1953. Forty-five years later, dying, he lay still and unaware for days. Except for one day when he was restless and agitated. It was the anniversary of Mary’s death.

My incorrigible Grandma Mauck, 90, was in the hospital apparently comatose. She was unresponsive, removed from time and place. She died on the same date Grandpa Mauck had died 36 years earlier.

How did they know?

Some years ago, I told my wise friend Mary Jo that I felt bad but I didn’t know why. “Don’t you have some anniversaries right now?” she asked. I was astounded. I was the one comatose! I’d been unaware of the time, the late winter months. Same time it is right now.

I’ve been struggling with insomnia for weeks now. It is horrible. I have inventoried several reasons for it, including heredity, but only yesterday did I remember Mary Jo’s words. This is a time of anniversary. Dad’s last months. The memories are insistent, grueling. It isn’t the death; it’s multiple deaths; it’s the dying. The anger, the aloneness, the exhaustion. The rising tide of losses.

Does trauma imbed itself in time so that it comes again and again, revolving with the earth? Are our souls aware when our minds are not?

“This too shall pass” is cruel platitude.

2 thoughts on “Calendar

  1. And is this supposed to pass? Is it healthier to admit that some memories of loss remain profoundly with us and true mental health means co-existing with dark spaces, even when they sneak up on you? Perhaps the constant quest for “happiness” is misguided? I know that you’re concerned with powerful, cummulative memories that mark the soul and become physical, even when you’re unaware of their presence. But, although I can’t yet articulate it, “this too shall pass” has given me a lot to think about. Thank you.

  2. You ask all the questions that I do, Shirah. I hear so many comment that seem to say that these life experiences are indeed supposed to pass, but they haven’t for me. And I suspect they don’t for others either. So that response of “this too shall pass” — or any variation of it — seems trivializing to me.

    “Co-existing with dark spaces” is a wonderful way to put it. I wonder if by writing we do more than just co-exist with them.

    Thanks so much for your thoughts!

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