Tomorrow is October 13th - four and a half years since Jimmy died. The 13th is supposed to be unlucky for everybody, but I was born on the 7th day of the 7th month. I always knew that the 13th would be extra unlucky for me. Oh, right, and I guess extra-extra unlucky for Jimmy.
Watching time click into the second half of the 4th year makes me take notice of how my life and the lives of everyone around me who loved my husband has
moved away from him little by little.
The unofficial rulebook after losing a family member states: You must keep his/her memory alive. For the first few months my kids and I would continually point out to two year old Skylar that her “Grandpa” liked this or that. Usually, the‘this and the that’was a dish of spaghetti or the waffle cones at a Baskin and Robbins.
We almost held a celebration of life memorial service where close family and friends could contribute “Big Jim” stories. The plan was to schedule it a few months after the funeral. We were sure by then the sting of losing him would be dissipated enough that we could display a montage of photos on a huge screen and a sound system that pounded out a song like “Through the Years.” We quickly vetoed that song because it was too ‘bar mitzvah-ish.’
Within a month we decided to pass on the memorial, too. The pain was fresher than we had anticipated and all the good friends had used their best material at Jimmy’s funeral. At the wake a TV looped the “This is your Life” video that I had made for Jimmy’s 45th birthday party and on three easels around the room we placed a framed assortment of dozens of his photos.
Pushing the envelope to eek out more adoration for a man and his life felt weirdly similar to paying a DJ or a band overtime to stay an extra hour. Party planners warn against it. “Leave them wanting more” they say.
For quite some time we’d smell flowers with Skylar and remind her that grandpa would carry her from flower to flower like a bumble bee pollinating. She was the only two year old on Long Island who could pronounce “pollinate” making her grieving Mommy, Daddy, Uncle and Grandma laugh out loud.
Jackie made sure that on a special occasion Skylar sent up balloons to Grandpa in heaven. Now at six and a half it’s part of Skylar’s holiday routine. There are never tears when a balloon escapes by mistake because we cover with “Grandpa must have really wanted that one.” We figure by the time she stops falling for it, it will be about the time she stops caring about balloons, anyway.
Let’s face it, to anyone older than ten years old balloons are just plain annoying. They’re fun and festive for the first twenty minutes. Three days later we’re stuck with a bouquet of dull and withering blue and yellow and green sacks of air that refuse to deflate completely.
They float and hover at our eye level until we’re forced to tighten their rubbery necks and stick a scissor through them the way Dexter, the TV serial killer stabs his victims. Only then can we throw them in the trash. Skylar is a year away from saying, “Are these stupid balloons still around?”
As I write this I see that we may have dropped the ball on our vow to keep Jimmy’s memory alive. Here and now I’m going to pledge to myself to mention Jimmy’s name more often to family and friends. He’s still continually on my mind.
I worry, though, that I’ll sound pathetic and make others feel sad. I worry that I’ll be forever perceived as “Poor Widow Me.”
Wait a minute...Worry? About being perceived as "Poor Widow Me?" Who am I kidding? If that were the case I should put a halt on this blog, my seminars, the upcoming website, and the book.
Well, if nothing else...I'm an honest widow.