I get a late start. Usually, this is a project for just after the new year. I take the 2016 calendar off the wall and grab the new one.
There was a time when I needed one of those calendars that had a column for every member of the family because the typical little boxes couldn’t fit everything we had to keep track of. I don’t use the wall calendar for much of anything anymore. These days my work life is on Google, while my home life is saved to my phone. But every year we get a new calendar and I copy all the important birthdays and anniversaries from the old one to the new one.
Now here we are nearing the end of February. I begin with the back-to-back birthdays of two of my best friends from high school. I sigh. Maybe next year I’ll remember to call.
Some dates are written on the calendar. Others are just written on my heart. We are coming up on the date that my dad, marching through a field during World War II, was suddenly blown up in the air. He woke up to find one leg was broken, while the other was partially gone.
It was Dad’s decision that he and my mom would marry on that same date, so he’d have something happy to remember that day.
Now on to March. My friend’s and our nephew’s birthdays go on the calendar, but the date that catches in my memory is my mother’s birthday. Mom was born on Easter, but her birthday landed again on Easter only once in her lifetime. I remember asking her if she was up to celebrating her birthday the year after my father suddenly died on her fiftieth birthday. She was.
“It was my birthday a long time before he died,” she said.
On to April, where I write down our niece’s birthday. I remember my granddad’s birthday that month and that Mom died on Earth Day.
I write my sister-in-law’s birthday in May, skip writing my own, but stop to think that my cousin’s birthday is the same day as mine.
In June I write my father-in-law’s birthday and remember that my dad’s birthday was earlier the same month.
Turning to July, I hesitate over the two friends’ birthdays that I always confuse, being on either side of the 4th of July. I’m pretty sure that I’m writing them down correctly.
Our anniversary in August is the same date that my grandparents were married. I remember when we were picking a date, choosing their day as a good omen since they had been married almost sixty years.
Our nephew’s birthday stands out in August, before the onslaught of family birthdays in September and October. There are my daughter’s birthdays, nine days apart, but separated by different months and a few years. I write my brother’s and my mother-in-law’s birthdays in September, remembering my grandmother’s birthday as well.
In October I realize we’re missing one brother-in-law’s birthday. I text my mother-in-law for the date, grateful that I still have parents-by-marriage to ask.
My sister-in-law’s birthday is all alone in November, but followed by a slew in December, including my husband, my sister, another brother. Poor December babies, their birthdays always get mixed up with other holidays.
As I’m getting the last dates on the calendar, I realize I’m grateful to be in 2017. I’d like to go back to visit some years past, but not others, and not to live. I carry my daughters’ childhood years, but wouldn’t want to give up the adults they’ve become to get them back. I miss my loved ones who are gone, but I’m content to live right here in the present, feeling richer for the past I carry with me.