September 18 and September 25 flew by this year. I missed the anniversaries surrounding one of the greatest upheavals of my life. I’m not sure how I feel about it.
The 18th was the twelfth anniversary of my friend Dave’s run from time to eternity. As he ran around the track at our school his last stride left his body on the ground while his soul traveled onward. Questions, tears, and efforts to comfort students and staff filled the afternoon. We slept saddened by this sudden catastrophe and woke with it compounded by a coup d’etat progressing around us.
The 25th was the twelfth anniversary of evacuating our school, our homes, our lives. Days before troops from both sides surrounded us and made us their shield. On the 25th of September French troops rolled in, set up a perimeter, and started us on a long journey that would lead to a new–and at that moment–unwelcome life.
On that leaving day 12 years ago, I would’ve changed things so peace would triumph quickly and easily. I might have packed my small carry-on bag a little differently. I would have said good-bye differently. Back then, I would’ve turned back the hands of time.
For the last 11 years these days have sucker punched me again and again. (You would think around the decade mark I might start to expect it!) I missed the full impact of the punch this year. I’m not sure why, but I have some suspicions.
This year I was in a new place with mostly new people. On the 18th I was wrapping up my time as a speaker at a women’s retreat. My heart was full from meeting and getting to know new people. My body and mind were exhausted from the same things. Saying good-byes in Belgium didn’t need to be confused with the good-byes from Cote d’Ivoire more than a decade earlier, and my brain left them very separated. To top off this 18th, I was moving from one set of friends to another.
By the 25th, I was in Ireland exploring one of the places my DNA originated. A quick glance at Facebook in the morning before setting out for an epic trek through Dublin reminded me of the significance of the day, but it didn’t do much more. The punch I’d forgotten about glanced my psyche as I sipped my afternoon latte and scribbled some thoughts in my journal. The palpable grief was gone before my scone.
Apparently I’m about as good with fleeting grief as I am with scabs. It’s hard to leave alone. “Why was it gone so quickly?” I asked.
I wasn’t sitting in my office in Colorado missing so many people.
I love what I do and where I am/was–beautiful by-products of unchosen circumstances.
I had just spent almost two weeks with 20 people I would have never known if life had continued in Cote d’Ivoire.
I’ve experienced more profound and less shared grief in the last two years.
Have you missed an anniversary you couldn’t imagine missing? What do you think made the difference?