Yesterday was meaningful to me for two reasons. Last night was the one-year anniversary of my father’s death. It was also the birthday of a good friend of mine. There’s no reason for those two things to be connected. My friend never met my father. She was born forty-something years ago when my father was healthy and whole. The only connection is in my mind.
I know I’m not the only one who feels those connections. Births and deaths. Beginnings and endings. We connect things, match them up with dates and holidays and other things that make sense only to us.
I remember when I was in high school. My mother’s father died suddenly of a massive heart attack. My mother went alone to Florida to be with my grandmother and my aunts and uncles while my father stayed home in Ohio with the four of us. In her sewing room lay the pieces of a new square-dancing dress and matching shirt for my father. Square-dancing was something they had taken to, something for my parents to do together that didn’t involve us. She had been making matching outfits for them for a while. I recall the red with some kind of little white polka-dots on the material lying on her sewing table. When she got back from my grandfather’s funeral, the material lay there, untouched. My parents still went square-dancing, but my mother never could bring herself to finish the dress and shirt made from that red material. In her mind, that red cloth was tied with getting the telephone call that her father had died. It made no sense. One had nothing to do with the other. But for her, the connection was real.
When my mother died, it was in the wee hours of the night between Good Friday and Holy Saturday. For me, her death is always marked by those two things, the actual date and Good Friday. They rarely coincide, but I always mark both in my mind.
Not all connections are about endings and deaths. I remember very clearly the first time I saw my partner – she was at the mall with another woman (I’ll write about that some other time…). She has no recollection of seeing me that day, but I remember. I can’t recall the date, but I remember we were at the theater to watch Robin Hood (the Kevin Costner version). Some weeks later, we met and became friends. As we started spending more and more time together, I remember precisely where we were when I realized that friendship had turned into something more.
We, humans, need to make connections, mark events that are important to us. Maybe that’s where Avebury and Stonehenge and Newgrange came from. We do it in big ways and small. We build monuments and monoliths, and sometimes, we sit alone, remembering, honoring.