Yes, this is a very old picture, but I realize as I write that all my pictures of Lenny are "old" now. There are some, such as this, that were taken when we still lived in California and parenting was still something our "older friends" were embarking on and we thought we'd actually have a say in how our kids turned out. We were still in that arrogant stage of life, when you think you have all the answers, worse, all the control, and you don't plan for the worse because you still think you can prevent it, or that it will never happen to you.
But now, here I sit on what would have been a day of celebration, reflecting on the fact that even my last and latest shots of my husband are now at least almost five years old! There aren't and won't be any new ones. Suddenly I'm filled with panic that every picture I have of him be accounted for, scanned, copied, placed in a book.
What we used to take for granted, the shuffling of photos from here to there is now the focus of all my attention. I've always been a scrapbooker, well, for at least ten years now, and though I couldn't even look at pictures let alone scrap them after his death I have begun to try again. I have more materials than I'll ever need to keep up with our daily life adventures, but also create a tribute to Lenny. The problem is, I don't know where to start. How do I document the life and death of the love of my life? How do I decide which photos have the most significance when they all seem like precious proclamations of a love to large to explain? Each photo feels like an irreplaceable masterpiece that I have to decide the fate of. And the emotional drain after an hour or so of sorting, scanning, filing. Just visually being reminded of what I had and what I lost exhausts me. There is no energy left after that to try to creatively and fittingly create something.
So here I sit. Remembering. Discovering. Discovering that even though today is Lenny's birthday this will not be the focus of the day for us. We will go to the cemetery, I will place flowers, balloons, a love note, but than we will leave and go back to the land of the living. And that will be the focus of the day. Getting school supplies ready, sorting laundry, getting the a/c fixed, again, these are the details of my life that keep going forward no matter how hard I try to stop them. Because even though I know that the work of grief is there to help us integrate the loss of our loved one into daily life, assimilate the "new reality", allow us expression of pain to be able to go on with life, there are times when I am perfectly content to not move forward. I don't want to keep moving farther away from that life. Then I look at my girls, happy, healthy, growing, and I realize that I have no choice. I cannot afford the luxury of staying stuck in my grief forever. It is with a bitter sweetness that I discover they have gone on. No longer do they mourn every day. Their new experiences crowd out the past so that while they don't forget their father they are not living in a place of half memories/half stories heard, but creating their new memories and stories that are so much more tangible to them. After all, it's been almost five years now, when your ten, like Colette, that's half your life. When you become a teenager, like Jess, the daily events and drama don't leave much space for the past. I envy them. I am proud of them. I miss Lenny.
As I say "happy birthday" to my late husband I make a silent vow. Never will you be forgotten, never will these days that come around every year to mark the passing of time lessen the importance of a life well lived, yours.
Now I will go to Legacy.com, find the link to the September 11 attacks, hit the flight 77 link, and like so many times before wish my husband a happy birthday there as well. And just for the record, since I've been asked many times, he is not related to the Hilda Taylor listed on his flight.