ANNIVERSARY Countdown (Count-Up?)

Today is Friday, March 7th, 2014. We were married 986 days ago, on June 25th, 2011.

Monday, July 1, 2013

One year

The cliches remark on how much can happen in an eye-blink of time.  They caution us to appreciate the moment, because we don't know what is to come. And we nod and go on about our business. But this has been one of those years. And it follows on one of those years.  Those of you who know us, know the drill, but for convenience sake (and for those from Latvia and Moldova who have happened by), let me repeat it...

  • June 25: Our first anniversary - an impossible feat after years of acquaintance-ship, years of friendship, and then years of living separately and seeing each other when it was possible, and then a wedding...and what a wedding it was! And then a year of traveling between three states, watching mom fail, and trying to hold together what we had promised each other
  • June 26: The closing: Our dream of having a house of our own becomes real (amid a mix-up of which branch of the bank to go to and arriving late)  - and it is THE house that we imagined and never thought possible
  • June 27: the packing continues
  • June 28 and 29: the marshaling of legions of friends from our town, the movers from hell, and a move that left us panting
  • June 29: more moving - all the things that had not yet been packed (bless our friends who managed it all),  the Rubbermaid containers and boxes in the garage, the full size loom, the garden debris,  removing the accumulated detritus, cleaning the house we were leaving, and with our phone service restored in the evening it becomes clear that I need to head to New York to await mom's passing.
  • June 30: midnight in New York
  • July 1: Estelle Ellis Rubinstein passed away as the obits say, "peacefully, surrounded by family and friends."  Perhaps not surprisingly, her heart continued to beat strong after her breathing had stopped.
And now we have celebrated another year's passage.

  • another year of marriage
  • a year of deciding where we belong -- to a career path or a life, to what we have been trained to do or to what we believe in
  • a year in our beloved home (how odd that word still seems!)
  • a year of unpacking boxes: ours and hers, from New York and Fire Island, and now one more move as Herb closes down his place in Massachusetts - the fifth in one year
  • a year without a life force that moved mountains, and when she no longer had the strength, the mountains came to her.

It is common for people to talk about a missing parent or spouse in certain ways.
  • I almost lifted the phone to call...
  • I felt her presence when I was struggling...

 A friend once said that her finger nails changed and became more ridged, like her mother's, after her mother died.

These have not happened.

But I have thought often about how much pleasure she would have taken in spending time in this house, and in watching her daughter's marriage grow.  I don't know whether she would have preferred the porch rockers that came from her house in Fire Island, or the patio table that she bought for me when I was still living in the little yellow cape. She bid that tiny house good-bye each time she left. Thanked it for what it gave. What would she have made of this place?

I know she would have fallen asleep in the leather chair by the pellet stove, newspapers arrayed at her feet.  I know she would have been making phone calls to friends in New York and California, planning theater dates, dinners at her favorite restaurant Blue Hill, where they saved a table for her when David Rockefeller wasn't there.

I know she would have relished the weather that is so present and the garden.

I know that she would have called a number of people in this tiny town, who had become her friends as well as mine. One told me how she had danced with him at our wedding. Others have told me how much they admired her ability to speak and be gracious to strangers. An old Vermont friend never fails to say how much it means that my mother called her "friend."

My memories are not so gilded. We would have argued; we often did.

But one year after we sat beside her, watching her heart beat on, I think of her strength rather than the struggles. 

  • I think of how she would have felt about H's resignation and about his many speaking commitments. A family member once said when my brother couldn't get a word in edgewise: "she was used to talking to large audiences." She would have understood his challenges and his successes.
  • I think of how she would have been insistent on helping to shape the logo, the website, the name of our new business.  It was, after all, what she knew in the deepest marrow of her bones. 
  • I think of what she would have advised when H and I have reached impasses on issues we feel strongly about. She would have had answers though I have none.  She was sure of herself in ways I have not learned. 

But one year after she died, and one year after this house became completely and fully our house, and one year of stashing her clothes and her books in corners, and cleaning up the Hurricane Sandy debris in Fire Island, and two years after our wedding at which she danced with a man as tall as my father, I think she would have been at peace.

 עליה השלום.

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