It happens like clockwork--twice a year. Two weeks before the anniversary of David's birthday or the anniversary of his death, my husband and I go into an emotional funk. It comes without warning but after experiencing this type of post-traumatic stress event for the past 17 years, we have learned the telltale reminders of the loss of David. We become teary-eyed, reflective, sad and experience the gut-wrenching grief we felt after he passed from cancer on August 2, 2000. Time does heal one's wounds but for anyone who has lost a loved ones, certain days of the year acutely reminds us of what we have lost. For many, it is during the holiday season, a celebration. For us, it is particularly difficult on what would have been his birthday (Nov. 15) and the day of his death. On October 31, emotionally I was fine. Then I woke up on November 1 and a wave of grief gripped me as I opened my eyes from a deep slumber. It didn't take long before I realized why I was suddenly engulfed in a depressed state.
I have learned how to cope with these episodes by talking to my husband, daughter and close friends about it, but it still overwhelms me how acute the pain is and how it doesn't diminish as time goes by. David would be 33 on November 15. What type of man would he have turned out to be? Would he have been married and have had children? As I read marriage announcements in the newspaper, I look for his friends who have married. When I see photos of his peers at their weddings, I am happy for them, but soon after, I feel jilted and then so very sad. Life is not fair, that is for sure. I did not learn this lesson until after David was diagnosed with leukemia in 1995. Prior to that time, I truly believed that if I was a good, honorable person, life would spare me from deep, anguishing pain. Well, that is not the case. As his oncologist gave us the bad news that David had leukemia when he was 10 years old, she said this comes under the category of 'shit happens'. There was nor rhyme or reason for his leukemia--it just was. The more one questions why this happens, the more upset one becomes and the guilt sets in which achieves nothing but more heartache.
David's death has changed us in so many ways. Although I honor his memory through our work at the Kanarek Family Foundation, the loss is still acute... twice a year... for two weeks. Like clockwork, my body instinctually knows how profound the loss of David is for my husband, daughter and me. And on Nov 16, and on August 3, the veil of grief will be lifted and life will return to what I now know is normal.