Remembering another November 13

It was one of those days I’ll always remember. And it makes me wonder why so many of “those days” people say are memorable are for something bad that happened…like the day Kennedy was shot, or the day Reagan was shot, or the day the Challenger shuttle exploded, or of course, 9/11. Can’t say I remember many really happy days in that way — my wedding day stands out, but little else. Maybe because I never had a child — do moms & dads remember their kids’ birth days that way? Or is the brain pre-wired to remember trauma more than delight? To feel pain more deeply than joy?

November 13, 2001, is memorable for me because it’s the day my dad died. Unexpectedly, though, thankfully, peacefully in his sleep. I remember everything about that day and the next few. As hard as they were, they answered a question that had troubled me for a long time — what would it be like to lose someone so close to me?

Until you live through it, you can’t know. But once you do, I think there’s a certain peace in that knowing. A “that which does not kill us makes us stronger” kind of peace amid the pain and sorrow. It allows you to understand and feel a kinship with others who have experienced similar losses — you’re all part of the club now. You know what it’s like. You can empathize, rather than simply sympathize.

Of course, I was very lucky to delay that experience until adulthood — how horrible, and how different, for a child to go through the same thing. I can’t imagine any peace in that circumstance.

I’ll spend today focusing on the good things I remember about my dad, and the positive lessons I took away from that sad day 8 years ago. It’s a luxury not everyone has — to remember a life and a death in a reflective, peaceful way — and I’m thankful.

We understand death for the first time
when he puts his hand upon one whom we love.
~ Madame de Stael


  1. RL said,

    Friday, November 13, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Amen. I hope it was a peaceful day.

  2. Sunday, November 15, 2009 at 4:32 am

    I certainly know what it is like to be a part of the club. My sister (who became widowed yrs ago) told me when my husband died, “I am sorry you had to acquire the (W) tee shirt”. You definitly do not know anything about it until you go through it, I pray peace for you.

  3. WritingbyEar said,

    Tuesday, November 17, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    Thank you! I wish the same for you, who has endured such a sad loss.

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