One of them dropped by my study on a random morning and told me that I looked sad. “I feel sad,” I said, “And I don’t know why.”
“Is this a mom day?” she asked me. (In other words: “Did anything happen on this date regarding your mother?) And – actually – it was my mother’s death day. Mentally I had forgotten but emotionally my body hadn’t.
I don’t love numbers unless they have something to do with relationships. It helps me to remember certain numbers:
- I was 32 years and 187 days old on the day my mom died.
- I was 55 years and 19 days on the day I outlived my mother.
- In a year and 25 days, I will have spent more time on this earth without my mother than I spent with my mother.*
As a parish pastor, I used to keep a calendar of special relational days for our members:
- Death Anniversaries
- Birthdays and Wedding Anniversaries for widows
- Birthdays for those who lost children or parents
I don’t have the capacity to do this for everybody now, but I remember a few. [Pro Tip for pastors and other compassionate people: contact people on their special days just to check in. You won’t be reminding them of anything they aren’t already remembering on some level. All you have to say is, “I’m thinking of you today.”]
When I was a pastor for a single congregation, I used to write newlyweds a note on their first wedding anniversary to check in. “Thinking of you today. How’s it going?” [Pro Tip: this is why we do premarital counseling. If we have established a relationship with a couple, then they have someone to talk with after the wedding if they need support. This first anniversary note often sparked a phone call to chat about marriage things.]
I remember when HH and I were figuring out what date to get married, I looked at all those summer Saturdays on the calendar and realized that – once we picked our wedding date – that date would never be an ordinary day again.
I remember when I looked over the calendar as a pregnant lady, checking out the day of the week my due date fell upon that I remembered that – no matter what happened on the day my baby was born – it would be a special date forever.
The numbers and dates are important relational tools. And today, I’m feeling a little sad. And I know why.
*Yes, I see a therapist.