Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Expiration Date

Exactly eleven months from today, Alix and I will be getting married.  We picked the date and the venue (in Connecticut) months ago, for a lot of reasons: it was one of the closest states where same sex marriage was legal (no longer true, thanks NY!), it was the weekend after Alix's graduation from law school, it was close to the end of my contract (for the job I no longer have), and it seemed like a nice time of year to get married.  Given the recent legalization of same sex marriage in New York and the fact that eleven months seems like an awfully long time to wait, who knows what we'll decide to do.  Regardless of when or where our wedding takes place, there is one very important person who won't be there.  Even had Alix and I married the day we met, her mother still wouldn't have been there to see it.

Four years ago today, Alix's mom died of ovarian cancer.  Four years may sound like a long time.  It's not.  It's seconds.  It's moments.  It's definitely not long enough to forget how it felt to watch your own mother take her last breath after fighting an epic battle against a monster that was determined to steal her away from this world long before her time.  It's not enough time to forget how it felt to pack up the various belongings and personal detritus that had accumulated in the last room at the end of the hall on the oncology ward of Lenox Hill after months of visiting every day.  It's not enough time to forget how it felt to walk out into the bright sunshine of a beautiful June day and marvel, incredulous, at the ability of the world to just keep going while yours was crashing down around you. 

The truth is, there is no expiration date on grief.  There is no statute of limitation.  It's there, and it's there to stay.  It settles in, comfortably, finding its home in your head and your heart and it catches you unaware just as often as the times when you can feel it coming.  Is June 26th a sad day?  It sure is.  But so are the days when Alix gets a great grade on a test and thinks - without thinking - "Oh, I'm gonna call Mom and tell her about that!"  Or the times when we cook her lentil soup and think about how nice it would be to invite her over to share it with us after a long day at work.

I don't pretend to know what it feels like to hold a grief so large and untouchable that it can consume you.  But in my own way, I grieve for the death of Alix's mom.  I think of all the moments that have happened and will happen that I wish she could be there for.  When we got engaged, when we get married, when our children are born - these are the obvious ones.  But there are smaller moments too, that I wish she could be there for.  My hopes, and Alix's, are in vain.

So, Tina, although you never knew me, I hope that you know this: I love your daughter.  I love her fiercely, completely, and with everything I've got.  There isn't a single thing I wouldn't do for her and if I can bring her joy in this life and make the load she bears just a little lighter, then I will have succeeded.  I wish I got to meet you.  In my own way, I miss you.  With love, Cait

2 comments:

dmsegel said...

That was beautiful.

Cait said...

Thank you. <3