What will it be like, remembering, or, forgetting, in a space vacuum of time?
What does time help us measure? How does it help us cope, or does the awareness of time aggravate our experiences?
This past weekend we celebrated dd's seven-year-old birthday. She has been counting down to her special day since last year, double-checking the days on her calendar, counting each square three times over to make sure that indeed there is 57 (or any other number) days left to her birthday, and all that.
I presented her with the Mango cream cake she had requested, sat down and watched the warm glow of the candle flames dancing on her face as she sat and smiled while her father took pictures, and I thought, "I have been a mother for seven years."
Of course, seven year is nothing in the big context of Time. Barely a drop in the ocean. But, it is seven years of my life. The total of my daughter's life. It felt so short, and yet so long. Most of all, it felt incredible.
Of course, I thought of our little Ferdinand. Sadness came into me, as I swallowed my tears and thought, "He would never know how this cake tastes like." He would never eat anything that I bake or cook.
If seven years is barely a drop in the ocean of Time, then, his time, earthside, is barely even an atom. I think this is what kills most bereaved, that brevity. Not enough time. Too short.
So, we turn things around. I changed my way of thinking. I see him as forever and eternal. Always been here and always will be here. Not confined to the form of a baby boy, but an eternal Spirit that is undying and indestructible like the omnipresent dust.
(And then sometimes grieving starts to feel so eternal too.)
Some time ago I was reading a book with dd about how people started to celebrate birthdays. Long, long, long ago, people did not celebrate their birthdays. At least, not commoners like us. Even longer ago, the idea of celebrating a birthday was not even there. Because, long, long ago, people have yet to figure out the concept of time, and how to calculate it. For a long time, they just sat and rubbed their stone tools together, trying to make a fire. If it takes them "five days" to stalk and capture an animal, then it is just whatever it takes to get food; and how long the food fills their stomach is simply how long it does. But as they sat and scratch the earth and figured out fire, they noticed that the weird shiny object in the sky changes shape with a regularity. Earth, moving in a rhythm in silent agreement with the Universe, brought light and darkness, and the moon to humans at regular intervals.
Somehow, between spitting and scratching heads and pondering and fighting and ruminating and making peace, our ancestors found out a way to keep track of time. Calendars came into being and now we all get a way to be on the same page. (At least to a certain degree.) I do not say, "When the half-moon is directly above the oak tree in the far corner of the yard, we can think about having sex." I can plan weeks ahead what to do, when to meet friends, set deadlines for assignments, set goals for whatevers. Knowing that time will unfold regularly and without fail, helps. And sometimes, strangles.
Recently, a friend wrote to ask for pictures of my "three children". He asked what is the name of my youngest and how is life with three kids. It made me keel over.
Because for ten months they had thought and imagined us in bliss, leading a busy and crazy life juggling three kids. But instead we were grieving.
Would it had been easier if he had emailed me one month after the event? Yes.
Would it had been easier if, for some reason we lost touch for ten years and then we met and he asked? Maybe.
Why is ten months so hard?
I don't know.
Maybe because it is two months away from one year. Just two months away from the full cycle of one year, when we would have celebrated his one-year-old birthday.
But I am not exactly sure why.
Why do we sit and count the days and weeks and months like this?
Why do we sit and imagine all the could-have-been's by the days and weeks and months? -- This month he could have been sitting. This month he might be walking already! This month he would be two years old. This month he would be going to school for the first time in his life, etc etc etc.
If we sit in a vacuum of time, would grieving be easier?
If we have no knowledge of how much time had lapsed, would living be easier?
When there exists no more measurements of how long, how short, how fast, how slow, how much, how little, how frequent or how often, would it be easier?
I don't know. Still trying to figure it out.