The Second Day of the Year

January 3, 2014 § 1 Comment

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We are driving home from the mountains on the second day of the year. The first day, we hiked and ate and drank the last of the wine and champagne in the cabin and stayed up talking into the night with good friends. But this is the second day, the first day to begin really planning the New Year. Our plans seem to push the car toward home. Our anxiety about what needs to be done begins to build. I answer emails in the car, and we talk about our lists. Jeff hasn’t had enough time alone to think about a list yet, which is true; we’ve been busy since mid-December. Jack Henry’s list includes getting a second-degree brown belt, mastering guitar, getting on the all A honor roll, and hygiene. Mine, except for the brown belt, is not far off, including the hygiene. The novel I’ve been working on comes first, as it always does. Then work and music and health and travel.

We drive on a bit, and I absently  pick up my phone to dial my mom. I haven’t done this in a long time. It takes me a split second to catch myself before I realize what I’m doing. She’s been dead almost three years, and most of the time now, I’m calmly aware of that fact. It’s not like the movies when I think to call her. There’s no build up, or crying afterwards. It’s just that contacting her made my list—checking in to see how she’s doing. I miss her.

I haven’t written about her or my dad in a long time. Trying to write a novel has taken up some of that time and brain space. But, also, there comes a point when what needs to be said is mostly said, and the people you miss only pop up in the very front of your brain when they need you to call them. You get comfortable with riding around with your dead on the back of your bus. They’re present and accounted for, but they’re not driving anymore.

I read a great essay about love and loss and time this morning. You can read it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/29/fashion/learning-to-measure-time-in-love-and-loss.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.  It is true: trying to achieve things by a strict timeline is useless. You can’t ever check off grieving or happiness completely; you can’t always keep clean.

If I’d made the phone call, I know what I would have said to my mom: Happy New Year! How are you doing? Are you taking care of yourself?  We’ve got a lot of plans this year, but we’d love to see you. We’ll be home soon and then we’ve got to go back to work and school. I’ll call you again later when I get a minute.

Instead, we drive home, take down the Christmas tree, and begin the year fresh with hope and flossed teeth.

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