Yesterday was March 25. The day my mother died. The 8th anniversary of her passing. And it is with full disclosure that I will tell you I completely forgot. Never crossed my mind. To be honest, I don’t really even know what month it is, and I certainly don’t know the day of the week, because I don’t yet have that kind of structure in my day to day.
But as the universe does – there came a reminder. At some point in the evening I suddenly thought – “wow, this day turned to shit in a hurry.” Then I saw a comment that my sister posted on Facebook and I thought “Oh damn it. Am I a bad person?”. I went to Google Calendar and turned on the notifications again because who the hell knows what else I’m missing. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to everyone I know in case I screwed that up too.
So today I am obviously reflective. I have always noticed, based on the passing of about 80% of my immediate family, that there are two very distinct memory paths to go down. There is the remembrance of the person. Their love for you, their relationship to you, the time they said or did something, their look, their smell, their smile. And there is the circumstance of their passing. The details. I find that anniversaries always bring back the details for me and I don’t really love those.
With my mom I remember standing in my kitchen in Calgary when she went into the hospital and thinking the word “catastrophic”. It was a term that suddenly took on personal meaning. I remember sitting in the lobby restaurant at the Fairmont Waterfront talking to my sister. The server coming towards me wondering what the hell had just happened, the nice lady behind the desk to whom I said – “call my friend in Banff, she’ll tell us what we need to do”.
I remember the little boy of about 6 who approached me earlier that afternoon in Vancouver, put a gold confetti star in my hand and said “You look like you need this.”
There are a bunch of other memories like that. I have to push those aside. I have spent my morning on that path and this afternoon I am resolved to go down the other path. The memories of who she was. The beautiful woman sitting at the kitchen table folding cardboard into the smallest possible shape so they could reduce recycling. The woman who taught me how to travel with grace and patience. The woman who stood beside her husband through 63 year of marriage and the loss of two sons, muttering “OH BILL” 13 times an hour. The woman who knew EVERYTHING there was to know about every person in a 5 mile radius.
The woman who stood, holding open the back door, with a smile on her face, watching me leave, every single time I went back to wherever I was going. Today, I will gather up those memories and cherish them.
Now to bring this back to Morocco because some of you are probably thinking this is a wild tangent, let me add this.
I’ve hosted my fair share of funerals, and been to far too many. (Only ONE of them had presents. Just sayin’). I honestly think the North American practice of having visiting hours at the funeral home for a few blocks of time prior to the burial is archaic, ridiculous, painful, hard on the family, and tiring as hell. I don’t like it, never have, never will. Trying to explain it to people from other countries elicits a face of “huh?” Yah. Exactly.
In Morocco (dare I say Islam? I assume. I apologize if I am incorrect), the dead are buried pretty much immediately. Often before sundown of that very day. I think I have covered the practice in this blog before. And then they let 40 days go by. After 40 days they all come together for the celebration and remembrance of that persons life. Wow. 40 days for the immediate family to get their proverbial shit in a group and start the healing process. 40 days to have some peace and quiet and hide under the covers. How nice is that?
When I die, give yourselves 40 days, then have one hell of a good party for me.