I often catch certain people looking at me.  Their eyes are fixed.  They are watching everything I do.  They are watching every frown and every smile.  I’ve caught my Grandmother Shamamta doing it.  And she finally said to me the other day in her Inshalla voice, wishes for me to have another boy.  One of my uncles has done it as well.  He seems to be wondering how I can smile and laugh as much as I do.  My close friend had tried to tell me once how she was so deeply affected from my loss, and months later, after I had stopped talking about it, she told me that her anxiety level was so high that her doctor gave her anti-anxiety medication and a referral to a therapist.  She was reminded of death and her fear escalated.

And then I remember the people that try NOT to look at me for too long, because they are too afraid to be reminded of something that we can never escape.  And I think to myself, what would happen if these people tried a Buddhist meditation that I have yet to try, where you meditate on your own death.  Where, no matter how hard you try, you are unable to prevent this inevitable death.  What would happen to us if we all did that?  Wouldn’t it help us stop fighting with each other?  Stop bickering?  Stop blabbing about things that simply don’t matter.  Wouldn’t it keep us from spending money on ridiculous things and maybe spend it on others who need food, medicine, or shelter? 

For my friend, I wouldn’t try to do away with the reminder.  I would embrace it and the anxiety will diminish.  I am thankful that I am able to even though I’m just learning how to do that.  And for those that try to forget it, I will always be a reminder for them that death exists.  That’s okay by me.  When they see me smile,  I hope they think, what enables her to smile?  What does she know that I don’t?  And maybe they’ll ask.  And if not, maybe they’ll wonder.  That is usually the beginning of something wonderful.

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It was 2 months ago today that our son, Milan, passed away.  If I look at the anniversary of his death by the hour, it was at this very moment, 2 months ago, that I was holding his lifeless body in his arms just after we realized CPR was hopeless.  The 20 medical professionals were filtering out of the NICU room about now.  I was crying out his name.

I recount this painful story to explore the value of Anniversaries.  As it is the first and hopefully last death trauma I have had to cope with, I will have to understand my feelings of a death anniversary for the rest of my life. 

Here is the definition of anniversary according to Dictionary.com:

-noun; 1.  the yearly recurrence of the date of a past event: the tenth anniversary of their marriage; 2. the celebration or commemoration of such a date; 3. wedding anniversary.

When we acknowledge and often times celebrate anniversaries of all sorts, we dig deep into our memories and commemorate the date.  A birthday is an accomplishment to commemorate, so long as you are still alive.  A wedding anniversary is also something to celebrate, so long as the relationship is working for the most part, and you remember all the things you’ve been through together.  Still this is a happier anniversary when you are both alive.

In coping with a traumatic loss, do we need an anniversary to remember the loss we are living with everyday?  You play out your memories when you are washing your face, peeing in the middle of the night, or touching someone’s skin.  Distractions offer only a moment of rest.

Maybe one day, when time has passed and my memories naturally fade, I will need to take a day to remember.  For now, trying to live in the present is what’s helping me live with the past.

Don’t keep your feelings inside or they will rot and make you sick.  Purify your trauma and spit it out, on paper, on walls, into other people’s ears.  Smear the pain with different colors, carve out the details.  You are now throwing up expression.

But when you do, be sure you are not throwing up the same thing each time.  When you do this you will own replicas of sadness and anger.  Originals are better than replicas. 

To make an original, spit out your trauma differently each time so that the next canvas is made with what you’ve digested from the last.