“The future came and went in the mildly discouraging way that futures do.”
― Neil Gaiman
It’s 6:15 am on Friday, May 12. I remember when we used to count Fridays as notable markers, beads on an the abacus of time. “It’s been five weeks since Vernon’s accident…t’s been 16, its been two years, etc”…all tethered by Fridays. Stringing the Fridays together, they gave us a framework that reminded us how far we’d come, even though no clues were given on how far we would have to go. Eventually we moved to the same street that Vernon had been hit at the corner of. Every morning, as we waited at the stop sign, before left-turning across “ground zero”, we’d silently think about it, but especially on Fridays, when I’d say it out loud. I still do that sometimes, but I’ve lost track of the number. There are too many of them.
Like parents of newborns, there seems to be a code of counting the weeks that only other parents of young ones understand: “How old is your baby?” The answer might be, for example: “seven and a half weeks”…or “15 weeks.”
I used to wonder why those parents couldn’t just round it up for the convenience of others. Just say three months already! Of course when I had my own, I understood. So much change can happen in a week, I wouldn’t want people to undervalue a single moment of what we’ve been watching in this child’s development. 15 weeks is different than 16 weeks. Or so it feels in the thick, slow, always-vigilant early days.
Then we move to months: “How old is your baby now?” …“Oh, 14 months.” Ok, that’s just ridiculous—why can’t you just say a YEAR? …..Because it’s not a year. Those extra two months have been counted in spoons, watchfully, heartbreakingly. Eventually, the parent comes out the other side, into the greater society of counting their child’s age by years and half years (or if the child insists, quarter years.)
So here we are…now 6:35 on another Friday. I’ve forgotten the number of weeks now, but I’m sure I could figure it out with little effort.* It’s two short of three years. Three years! Every May is heavy with an underlying awareness that the milestone of “the night” is rolling around again. Like a birthday, this brings some extra reflection and mood swings (for all of us). It’s been a tough month…as it should be. The greater the loss, the more honor it deserves. And it was a very great loss to this family.
While we are on the subject, Maki’s half birthday is in three days. He’ll be 15 and a half: old enough for a driver’s permit, just short of sweet 16. And Justine turns seven in three weeks. We celebrated her fourth birthday soon after the crash. I keep trying to remind her that she’s six still, holding on a little longer. But now so close, that begins to seem pointless. Lets just round up already. I am 45 (and a half, more or less.) We keep ticking through these Fridays, growing up together.
*PS…It’s been 154 weeks, officially, today. Wasn’t that hard to do the math, after all.