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Anniversary Days Mean Saying Goodbye

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Anniversary Days Mean Saying Goodbye

"Does it get easier?" "Will I always feel saturated with pain?" "Will I ever be happy again?"

These are the questions we ask after the door has slammed and we’ve sunk into a dark and bleak pit. These are the questions that crowd our weary bereaved minds, along with all of the "what ifs" and "whys."

Our child died. Our world has caved in. Breathing is difficult. Misery and hopelessness are eaten with breakfast. The ache in our heart is so profound we are certain we will die of heartache.

We dread each day without our child. Holidays approach and he is not with us to join in the fun. Her birthday arrives without her here.

And then a year since her death is about to pass. We relieve how we felt when first told our son or daughter or sibling had died. We replay in our minds how it was on that horrible day, the day we lived the worst possible nightmare.

We have what no parent wants---a death date to place next to the birth date. We call the death date, the anniversary date. It doesn’t matter what we call it, it means the same---a day that belongs to us that we wish was just another any-ol' day.

The years pass. We gain a little strength. We learn the bereavement ropes. We find other like us to help hold our hand on this rocky and uncertain journey of longing for our child’s voice. We try not to let others who do not understand bother us too deeply.

Yet each year that date arrives. For me it is February second, known in the USA as Groundhog Day. February second is the day I watched my son, Daniel, die. I told him good-bye, although the words came out unwillingly from my mouth. No one wants to tell their child good-bye forever.

Each February second, I light my vanilla-scented candle in memory of my tomato-picking, peeing in the woods, watermelon and Little Foot Dinosaur loving boy. Each year I am acknowledging his life of four years and his cancer death. I am saying those words I never wanted to say. I am saying good-bye.

After eight years, I am still not ready to say goodbye. Yes, the pain has diminished. Yes, I can smile and laugh again. I can even get through months without tears. But the hole in my heart is as real and as present as the sand at the beach.

After eight years, February second is still a day I wish never came and a day I wish would never show its face again.

Because saying good-bye each year always makes a part of my heart feel chopped up and pounded.

So do the passing of years make it easier on the bereaved? I think so.

But the anniversary days are always filled with bleak and unique sorrow. Light the candles. If you can, remember the pleasant times. If you can soak in the love your child has for you and you for him. Say a prayer for God in Heaven to continue to hold this child you want to hold yourself.

And when the impact of the day grips your heart, cry freely. And if you still find it hard to say good-bye, know that you are not alone.

~ Alice J. Wisler
Copyright 2005