Certain alerts on my calendar repeat every year—so I don’t forget—but they aren’t birthdays. They’re anniversaries of deaths. And when they pop up, a spectrum of emotions surges through me.
Sometimes they remind me of people I will never stop missing, and sometimes they remind me that people I love are awash in the residual waves of grief a year or two or seven or fifteen after the physical loss of someone deeply loved.
Dates matter. I was raised by parents who made remembering their engagement and wedding anniversaries monthly competitions. They wished my brothers and me “happy monthday” each and every month that wasn’t our actual birthday. And decades down the road, they still do.
Remembering matters. Celebrating matters. Grieving matters. Because loving matters.
So when an alert pops up for a death date on my calendar, I know it’s an opportunity to mail a note or make a phone call or send a text or email. But even when I stay silent and fail to reach out, I stare at the calendar and try again to wrap my thoughts around how life continues with heartrending voids.
And I realize what an honor it is to remember. What a privilege it is to speak presence into absence. What a gift it is to know and be known.
What a treasure it is to walk through joy and sorrow together every day . . . whether my calendar reminds me to or not.