I hate this time of year. This year I hate it the most.
Mom died February 25, 2010 after a brutal and punishing three-month ordeal. She'd been diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer in December 2009, and I had watched her terrible end knowing it was coming - she was not going to survive; it was just a matter of how long. Still, we tried our best, my brother, father, and me, to make decisions that were good for her. It was never going to be enough, and she died, her head half-shaven and full of scars from staples and sutures, a wasted shell and ghost of a woman who had been the smile-iest person you would ever meet - now a terrified husk that was mercifully delivered from her suffering (and ours) before she truly lingered.
So that's how I remember my Mom. My memory has not softened to a place where I remember how she was for all but the last three months. It's also why I mostly choose not to remember her, or dream at all. I dreamed of her once, perhaps a month before I got married, some six months or so after her death. I approached her in my bathroom, where she was looking at herself in the mirror. Where her head had been shaved was fine blonde hair, perhaps a half-inch long, like someone had given her a buzz-cut with some trimmers. Soft. No scars or staples. She touched it gently and asked, "do you think it will be OK in time for the wedding?". And I woke up. It seems like it should almost be a nice dream, soft edges and all, but I don't find it so. I think - you've gone your way and now I must go my way. I prefer not to dream, so as not to meet her. I am not comforted by anything.
It's been five years now. Seems like two. The anniversary always sneaks up on me - for a couple of years I refused to remember the precise date. I find myself walking into a fog of sadness, indolence and anger, my work suffering, my life suffering, not understanding why until my therapist reminds me what time of year it is and why that's important. It always stops me in my tracks. Then I say, "but I'm not thinking of her", and he always says something to the effect of, "yeah, you are, you just don't think so" (more eloquently, though. He's a fuckin' Columbia guy). This time when I realized it was five years. . .I was kind of stunned. Surprised, somehow. Five years? Five years. Maybe it's time to start getting over it. Maybe it starts with dreams.