6,099 days ago, when I was 6,099 days old, my mother died. I could have done the math down to the hour, minute, second, but the long and short of it is this: tomorrow I will wake up having spent most of my life without her.
It’s not a milestone I hear many people talk about, and I know a bigger guidepost will be the day I am 45 years and 37 days old, permanently older than the fixed age she will always be. Those worries are more than a decade away, if I ever get to them. For now I have to fear forgetting her. I can still see her face’s every freckle, line, and pore if I want to, but I know these memories are plastic. How much of this image has cracked over time without my noticing? Details of her face, voice, personality may be composites now, spackled over with my imagination or something I read in a book.
There’s a rule of thumb when a relationship ends, that it takes half the life of the relationship to move on. I know this is meant to apply to romantic relationships, and break-ups at that, but I can’t help but draw the comparison. I’ve now passed 100% of the length of ours, and I am still grieving.
Half a lifetime ago I became less than who I was, and who I had the potential to be. Half a lifetime ago I lost the bright light in the center of my world. Half a lifetime ago I was doomed to live only half a life.
I’ve known this day would come for a long time now, and I knew I would assign a certain amount of ceremony to it, as I am able to do with so many days on the calendar, but I was not sure how it would feel. I thought I would have more to say. I guess it’s enough to acknowledge this as one of the last things we shared, a day that is just hers and mine. For 6,099 days we could wake up knowing each other was in the world. For the same number of days I’ve had to wake up to a very different world, and will have to keep going, 6,100, 6,101, 6,102, and on and on.