Ritual and Remembrance. (Memoir)
Cole, Diane, Midstream
"So what will we do for Dad's birthday this year?" asked my son Edward, then eleven. A no-brainer, you think: bake a cake, blow out the candles, and huddle together in a family hug.
But Peter, my husband, had died the previous winter. Any candles we lit would be rituals of remembrance. And I could foresee no icing on any cake.
Still, there was no getting around the fact that July 26 would mark what would have been Peter's fiftieth birthday. It would come, just as it always had in the nearly three decades he and I had celebrated growing older together: on a steamy midsummer day, just two weeks after my own birthday. There also would be no avoiding the final milestone in this month-long cluster of sad anniversaries: August 7, which would have been our (or had Peter's death made it just my) twenty-third wedding anniversary.
And so Edward's question spoke to a real predicament: what would we do--or not do--for his father's half-century birthday? What could we celebrate on any of these days previously devoted to family celebrations?
Our choices, it seemed to me, boiled down to two. We could mope quietly by ourselves, unable to forget. Or we could gather together with a select group of friends, in order to remember.
I voted for the latter. Not because misery loves company. (I prefer solitude for tears, actually.) And not because I wanted an excuse to get blind drunk (though that idea did have its appeal). Nor was it solely for my son that I instinctively went for a plan that at least in theory held the possibility for fun. (The person who has fired of laughter is fired of life.)
As I conceived them, our …
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Publication information: Article title: Ritual and Remembrance. (Memoir). Contributors: Cole, Diane - Author. Magazine title: Midstream. Volume: 49. Issue: 5 Publication date: July-August 2003. Page number: 41+. © 2009 Theodor Herzl Foundation. COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group.
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