Sunday, December 23, 2007

End of the beginning


This last week contained the birthday of the now middle son of our good friends. Now middle because his baby brother was born, safely, in April. Last year the actual birthday day fell on a Tuesday, the party was on Saturday, but we were also invited to their house for cake baking and eating on the weekday birth day. Just us, no-one else. We were invited again this year, and when I got that call, a week ago Friday, it shook me. Last year the winter was so mild that it didn't even register with me as such until that birthday, the date of which was unmistakably December. And so this year's invitation heralded, shoved in my face, really, the fast approaching closing of the circle.

New Year is our big, important winter holiday. For a number of years now, we have been renting a house in ski country with a group of friends from the Old Country. The group shifts a little year to year as someone bails to stay home with a baby or to try something else, but overall it's a consistent core. This year the house is the same as last year, and even the room in it where JD and I will be staying is the same. Can you spell dread? The birthday invitation, it made the winter, the New Year, the January coming all too real. And inescapable.

I tried to think, yesterdays morning, about last January, and at first I drew a complete blank. January 2nd, leave the ski house. January 29, last good day. January 30th, the day my son died. I knew there was more in the middle, and after I gave myself a prod, things started to come out of the shadows of my very tired brain. My parents were here for a week, and left six days before A died. My dad painted A's room then. While they were here, Monkey had her first piano recital. The week before that we had a potluck party at our house. We spent a lot of time with the friends who now have three-- we are friends, our older kids are friends, we live reasonably close by, and we were pregnant together.

There is a karaoke machine in the box in my family room now. JD bought some karaoke DVDs last year, and we brought them and a small mike that plugs into the amp from his electric guitar to the ski house. We had so much fun with this very limited set up last year (we did it one more time at that January party at our house, and kids got in on the act that time), that we wanted to do it again, make it a tradition. Hence, the machine. JD opened it yesterday, to test-drive. I had a few moments of levity when the three of us shared the two mikes that come with the machine to sing songs in two languages and many-many styles (for the record, I apparently can't pull off country; a pity, really-- I do much better when I am singing along with the CD in my car). But mostly that machine sitting out in the middle of my house made me very very anxious. The machine is back in the box now, and I feel better. Maybe the controlled exposure will be enough to prevent me from freaking out when it takes up its residence in the living room of the ski house.

A is bound in my mind with Natan by the trick of the calendar-- they both left us in January, even though almost nothing else about their stories is even close. Recently I discovered that their yahrzeits are exactly one Jewish month apart. Connected, again. Natan's yahrzeit has come and gone. A's is less than four weeks away now.

It's coming, the New Year. It will be here in no time at all, and there is no hiding from it and that coldest, longest month it will drag in.


thrice said...

I keep attempting to come up with some comforting words, but there can't be any. I'm so sorry. Everything should be so very different.

niobe said...

Thrice is right, of course. But sometimes -- and I hope it's this way for you -- the anticipation is worse than the thing itself.

Phantom Scribbler said...


Snickollet said...

I am so eager for 2008 to get here that I forget that it will contain painful times. I'm sorry that so many difficult anniversaries are coming up, so many painful reminders.

Thank you for a lovely time yesterday. Let's have a repeat in the new year, when you're up for it.

Casey said...


christina(apronstrings) said...

i hope niobe is right, i've found the anticipation is often worse. although, i've escaped anything even close to your loss, so i have nothing to compare it to.

i wish, wish, wish i had some magic words to make this easier for you. i suppose that's another part of the must be suffered alone. by you.

all that i know to say/offer is know that in your darkest hour there are many of us out there who are thinking of you and wishing you strength in your mourning.

thinking of you.

Tash said...

Yup. I'm not far behind, with the 12th of February. All of the winter planning and activities are really loaded. You're brave to replicate as closely as you are -- I would've changed plans. Wishing you peace, and hopefully -- hopefully -- some new memories in this next month to fill the void.

Anonymous said...

I find the anticipation of things to be worse. I hope once the first year is over you are able to to proud of your accomplishment in surviving it with grace and dignity.

meg said...

I have read this post over like 8 times and I keep coming back and still have nothing good to say. I think, I've just decided, that there is nothing I can say. I can't make any part of it better. If only I had the magic wand that you write of and I could grant all our wishes.

I will be thinking of you in the month to come. I have a few dates in there myself. I know it's going to be hard. A cold, long month, indeed.

Beruriah said...

Well I guess it's no great surprise that a few days passing hasn't given me any additional or great wisdom. I hope it will be possible to have some moments of fun and levity over the New Years' holiday. We will probably ignore it.

wannabe mom said...

whew...the one year anniversary. i'll certainly be thinking of you, a lot a lot a lot.