Saturday, July 12, 2008

Forgetting


I didn’t realize what day it was until Betty called. I had spent the day, just like any other summer day, doing virtually nothing. Then the phone rang, Kelly answered and gave it to me.

I hadn’t talked with Betty in quite awhile. She is a neighbor who lives across the street from my childhood home. I just thought she was calling to catch up on things, so even the fact that she had called didn’t clue me in until she said, “Well, I just wanted to see how you were doing today. It’s been three years since your sweet mama died.”

It hit me then. It was my mom’s deathday, July 2. I had forgotten.

After I hung up the phone, I sat bewildered for awhile. My mom had died three years ago to the day. That event marked the conclusion to the most traumatic three months of my life--watching my mom succumb to cancer. And I had forgotten.

Then I began to beat up on myself. “How could I forget what today was?” I asked. “How could I be so callous, so insensitive? How could I forget?”

Kelly told me it was a good thing that I forgot--that it meant I was healing. But for me, forgetting my mom’s deathday meant that I was forgetting my mom, plain and simple--even though I have dreams about her almost weekly; even though the furniture I inherited from her reminds me of her every time I look at it; even though I hear her voice advising me dozens of times daily. I forgot that she had died on this day.

Why is it so important to remember the dead? Because that is how they live on. If we forget them, they truly do die--regardless of one’s views on the afterlife. If we forget them, they die to us.

I haven’t forgotten my mom, but I don’t want to forget the events that imprinted upon me the fragility of life and the cruelty of untimely death. So, I marked my mom’s deathday on my calendar. I won’t forget ever again.

2 comments:

Bezner said...

Wow. Great post here. I remember watching my grandfather die from cancer (my grandmother is slowly dying from Alzheimer's currently), and it is a transforming experience. Those who are so strong and good are turned into those that are also weak and frail.

I believe that God uses that experience to form us and to remind us of his goodness.

I think that Kelly is right, that your forgetting is a sign of your healing. But I also think that you're right to remember. Not for grief purposes, but in order to create a spot in your life where you can stop and do something tangible (eat a dish, tell a story) that reminds you of her.

Kelly said...

Just remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve....