New Years Day, a new, insignificant, but much touted starting point of time for most. Everyone changes calendars, starts their annual spending accounts over, hangs out with their families, and the new year begins. We all measure time; for good or bad, we do. We all measure our lives based on some random (or maybe scientific) timeline that started thousands of years ago. We have days, weeks, months, years – and for some, decades. In the beginning we use hours and days, we move on to months and years at some point, and then decades as we approach some point in our lives.
Ask someone how old they are, that measurement from the day they were born until their last birthday, and everyone knows it. How long have you been married? How long have you worked there? How long ago did you graduate? And everyone knows the answers to these questions. They all know so many dates, and how long it’s been. Everyone measures their lives against some, or several, events. For the most part, happy points on that long line of life.
But with us, as with many other, it is different.
As Cynthia said a few weeks ago – life started over when she lost her son. It is the only important day, the only date that really matters anymore. There are plenty of other dates, but this one changed everything. Everything is measured from that day on – and will be from now on, for the rest of her life, as well as for the rest of our lives.
Our timeline has a new starting point now. We no longer measure how old we are or how long we have been married – time frames that we were so proud of before. When we graduated school or how long we have worked at our current job just don’t have that sense of importance anymore. We really only keep track of one important date – when we lost our child. Everything is still measured, time keeps moving on, but we just don’t seem to care about those dates anymore. there is really only one date now.
Ask any bereaved parent “how long has it been?” Before you can even finish the sentence they have blurted out sixteen months, or three years, or seven years, or six weeks. We don’t have to think about it, we don’t have to calculate it, it is just there, all the time, on the tips of our tongues and in the forefront of our minds.
it is such a tragic day, such a tragic thing that has happened, that nothing else is as important to us – life started over on that day. Something that we loved beyond belief, someone that came from us, someone who was part of our being – was taken away.
For those of us who are lucky enough to have one or two or even three other children, or blessed with several grandchildren, we of course know their birthdays, and their special dates. But, more importantly, we know exactly how old they were when we lost our child. You could hear us say “Jack was fifteen when he lost his brother, he is now, uh…twenty one.” We know how old they were, but have to think about how old they are now.
Life also started over because we are such different people than we were before. Such a drastic change in our lives, such a shift in who we have become, this warrants a new start date. The path that we are on now, the path that fate has put us on, has a mile marker 0 where we our new journey began. Every day, every week, every year, we go further down that path, but we are never far from that mile marker 0. It is always fresh in our minds and in our hearts, and never further than a teardrop away.
Yes, we go on. Yes we get older. Yes, we remember all the good times before that date, and cherish them. But for us, especially us, our lives started over when someone was taken from us.