Tuesday, November 14, 2017

#SOL17: Counting

The Other Side of Fear (M.A. Reilly, 2017)
Basically, your fear is like a mall cop who thinks he’s a Navy SEAL: He hasn’t slept in days, he’s all hopped up on Red Bull, and he’s liable to shoot at his own shadow in an absurd effort to keep everyone “safe.” - Gilbert, Elizabeth. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (p. 23). 

In a few days I turn a year older. With Rob's death I have some new thinking about birthdays. Now, they mark time alive--time living. Turning a year older is cause for celebration. The day after my birthday would have been (so hard to write it with this tense) Rob's. I used to kid him that before we met I celebrated my birthday for at least a week, if not longer. Now, it's hard to recall a time when my birthday was celebrated separate from Rob's birthday. Two Scorpions. Earlier in the week Devon asked me, "Are you the 19th or the 20th?" So entageled were our birthdays that even our son only knew them as two sequential days in November. For nearly 30 years we celebrated both of our birthdays on either his birthday, mine, or the closest weekend.

In two years, I will be as old as Rob was when he found out he had cancer. It seems odd that I could ever be his same age. He was always four years older.  He was that young child just turning four who hid beneath his parent's kitchen table rather than face the birthday party he did not want in Brooklyn. 3,100 miles east I was turning one day older in Dublin. Time is always relative. 

Living deliberately requires an acknowledgement, if not an embrace, of ambiguity. And it is this unknowing that often gives permission for fear to rise. And rise it does. Fear permeates like a fine Dublin mist when the path I am making is unclear. It soaks the skin, bloats the cells so that where I begin and end is something of a puzzle. Yet, not knowing is a common state, a frequent way of being in the world. The ambiguity of life is living's most salient feature.

Later this week I'll mark another year on the calendar. I'll do what Rob can never do: grow older. There's an odd comfort that comes with counting. It masks the uncertainty by giving all we cannot hold, a number.



6 comments:

  1. Mary Ann -- Wishing you peace, and thanks for sharing your wisdom arising from the complex emotions of this birthday. Gary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Gary for taking to to read the post and to comment. It is complex.

      Delete
  2. Birthdays are a mix of reminders of joy and grief for me as well. You reminded me of how hard February and March are even after 14 years of my mom being gone. I find comfort in county too. I hope you find some joy in your day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much. Losing a mom is difficult. I imagine the day will be good.

      Delete
  3. I hope you and Devon are able to mark your birthday in another way now - so fitting, somehow, that you and Rob were just a day apart.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Such a beautiful piece of writing on time, on birthdays, and love. Thanks for sharing them.

    ReplyDelete