I talked with my brother, Emmitt, tonight.  I asked him why anniversaries in years of increments of 5 seem to be more important.  The 5 years…5, 10, 15, 20, 25, etc.  Why?  Why do anniversaries of 1 through 4 not seem the same?  He said this…

Because, no one can handle the early years.  Somewhere along the way, we devised a system of measurement that honors 100 years as a term of importance.  Everything can be seen over the long term in a hundred years, but not so much in a single year.  When you feel a need to divide a hundred years into smaller slices, you get things divisible by 10, because we live in a world that has accepted the decimal system.  This is simple, Linda.   We need measuring sticks.

And, when you divide the 10s by half, you get the 5s, because you probably won’t live to be a hundred years old, so you get half.  You get the 5th  year of a momentous occasion.  You get the 10th, the 15th, the 20th, and the 25th, and on, and on.  In this way, it’s somehow easier to not notice the years in between.  You have to actually live in between.  So, you designate the 5 years as “okay” to celebrate and commiserate.  You can’t live in the moment every year.  You certainly can’t live in it every day.  You do, because you lost someone that is unlike the rest of us.  You lost a child.  No one who hasn’t been there really understands that.  No one, but one who has lived in it, that is.

He continued with…”and, generations are often thought of in terms of 20 years.”  I corrected him with “generations are currently often thought of in terms of 10 years, culturally, because things change faster now than in the past”.  He couldn’t argue.

We talked of how everything changes in periods of 10 years – music, economies, education, pop culture, technology, industry, and more.  Ask your financial adviser –s/he will tell you, “don’t make any changes until you’ve seen a trend”.  We don’t see trends in the instant.  We see them in a longer timeframe, often 10 years.  Well, grief has little to do with finances, but I get it, from that extended and limited perspective.

And, I asked, what of daily routines?  What happens when you wake up and you don’t hear your kid calling out to you for breakfast or clean clothes?  He could only relate to the larger picture – makes sense.  He didn’t feel the gap in the same way, he didn’t lose a child.  He’s not lesser for the loss, not less of a feeling person.  He’s simply protected from it, to an immeasurable degree.  He feels it as an uncle, a secondary stress/loss.  How he feels loss is not for me to judge.  We all feel it as individuals, in our own rights.

What of grief and loss then in terms of anniversaries?  I can tell you from personal experience, I feel it every day.  Yes, it changes over time.  The colors change, the intensity softens.  But, in the middle of the night, when there is no time, loss is NOW, even if for a moment, or in the aftermath of a dream where Owen, or my mom, or my dad has visited.  I love my dreams that bring my loved ones into this moment.  Why?  Because, then, they are not missing or gone forever.  They are here and telling me things that are important in the in-between years of 5, 10, and a hundred.

Who will remember any of us a hundred years from now?  The measuring stick will have moved ahead, but not become shorter for the instant period, so who knows?

If you are able, make an impact that will outlive you, for at least a hundred or more years.  When you die, someone will think of the past 5 years, and wonder.

Whew.  This hundred years was long, and I remember my grandparents.  This is a “smell the roses” moment, even in the desert.  Ah.

R. Carlos Nakai, Echoes of Time…


~ by Linda on May 31, 2012.

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