His birthday-November 3, 1999-is the first date that I truly had seared into my mind. I was very lucky in that I didn't experience much trauma or extreme change during my childhood, therefore there was never a date that marked a boundary between "before" & "after" for me. I had plenty of good dates to remember (birthdays of loved ones, my marriage anniversary, etc), but never one like this. It a day that very much embodied Dickens', "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" for me.
It wasn't long after Pup's birth that I then had another date. March 1, 2000. That was the day he had a incredibly traumatic MRI & we found out that the stroke he'd had at birth had grown into a large fluid filled cyst that was starting to squeeze what was left of the right hemisphere of his brain & bulging out his skull. I thought our hard times were over, but they weren't.
Then theres March 10, 2000. That's the day he had brain surgery to drain the cyst. I don't know if I've ever been so terrified in my life as when I had to hand over my sweet baby boy to an anesthesiologist so they could cut open his head. It was a nightmare that ended up being well worth it, but brain surgery is scary. I would like to never feel that kind of fear again.
I had quite a respite from these types of markers until August 5, 2009. That's the day my dad died of cancer. He had a hard end too, difficult to witness & filled with what felt like contrived "family moments" that I hated. I wonder now if I should have felt that way. I worry.
Because the latest date entered into my ledger is April 23, 2015. My mom passed away at 4 am that morning after having a stroke the night before. She had brain cancer that had metastasized from it's original location in her pelvis.
She was alone when she died. I still feel guilt for this. I worry that this was her greatest fear & that it came to pass due to my callousness. I don't know if I should feel this way or not, but I do. It was hard being her daughter. The constant comparisons, the expectations that I never met, her anger at me for making my own choices, her disappointment--it's been a heavy burden at times. I only felt anger with her for the first 5 months after she was gone. Then suddenly, late in September, grief caught me suddenly.
Grief doesn't come with a clear date for me I've found. All I know is gradually, over the course of a few days, it visits. And then it makes itself at home & stays. I know I'm in the first flush of sadness about my mom's death & that it's going to take some time to get to the next phase. It will come.