A long time ago, I had a short conversation with a friend. She was walking toward a blue time of the year, the season when someone in her life had died. I know now that she was sharing because she hoped for a little extra kindness in the days that followed.
But I was the wrong person, at least at that time.
“How many years has it been since he died,” I felt the need to ask.
Years. More than a decade.
She likely read the confusion in my face. That was a very long time ago, and certainly did not merit melancholy each and every winter.
A few weeks ago, Facebook sent me a friendly reminder that it is time to hold my own sadness in my hand.
“Here’s a picture from 2 years ago,” Facebook notified me with cheerful nonchalance.
“You remember that night, right?”
Yes, I do.
It was our anniversary. In the photo, the Handsome Woodsman looked especially handsome as we celebrated five years from the day of our first date.
The hasty image was captured exactly two weeks before he died in the car accident that left black skid marks along Highway 99, just north of Meridian Road.
Thanks Facebook. I might have forgotten the bowl of delicately prepared vegetables at Leon’s Bistro, or the way the buckles of his suspenders reflected candlelight.
Facebook was right. That night was worth remembering.
Last week I attended an event with a guest speaker. Part of the man’s story was about being in a car accident. The man lived and three people died.
A friend texted me later that night.
“I was oblivious tonight that the details of the car accident may have been upsetting to you,” she wrote.
It wasn’t the details of the accident, I wrote in reply.
“What affected me more,” I wrote, “was seeing your boyfriend’s hand reach out to touch your knee and knowing Dave’s big paw would have been draped across my shoulder.”
Little moments of “what if …” happen all the time, and not tied to tales of tragedy. This week it was a gardenia bush. I walked by the white flowers at dusk and remembered that Dave would always, always, always, pick me a gardenia flower, even if he had to stretch his long arm into someone else’s yard.
Will picking myself a gardenia always make me smile and always make me a little bit sad?
I hope so.
Nov. 1 may always remain my personal “Day of the Dead.” This week we celebrate all Saints Day and Dia de Los Muertos. Both are days of celebration.
Two years ago, about this time, I lost someone very important to me. I’m telling you because I may need a bit of extra kindness in the days that follow.