Holding August

Many associate August with the fading days of summer,  final trips to the beach, last gasp efforts to take it all in so that some of that warmth can stay in our bones as we turn towards the fall.

Not me.  For me, it is a far more complicated month than that.  I was born in August, I got married in August and my dad passed away in August (these three moments in time did not happen in the same year if you were wondering).

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When you’re a child, summer birthdays are like always drawing the short straw.  Your school friends are away, so there’s no big birthday party.  I was always at camp, so I got to raise the flag, people sang to you at lunch and I was able to receive a call from my parents.  The good news was that the call usually came during swimming, so I managed to avoid the changing room.  But the whole allure of theme parties, giggles, gifts and giddiness are just not part of the summer birthday equation.  Over time, it all evens out – and one comes to appreciate that the celebration is not in the number of people surrounding you in the moment, but the number of people surrounding you always.  The reminder that to many you are special and loved, and to some you are just an afterthought.  I don’t say that with ill will – it is what it is.  I’m beyond rich in the love department – and I don’t need a day to remind me of that.

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Andy and I got married in August.  We get a little giddier this time of year – although it’s been more than twenty years since I broke out in hives under the chuppah and Andy and the rabbi walked me gently through my vows as my little one twisted his fingers in my dress asking for cake.  There were toasts – my dad insisted on reading his despite his failing voice and already-compromised health.  I don’t remember it all, but it began “Once upon a time there was a princess who met her prince..”.  His voice was hard to hear – even with the microphone – but the magic was clear.  The kids got their cake, my nieces jumped up and down with preschool exuberance, taking credit for this union (and were it not for their friendship their respective aunt and uncle would never have met).   We began our life with the knowledge that we weren’t lucky – we were blessed.  When we’re smart enough to remember this, we still are.

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And then at month’s end, I continue to say kaddish for my dad.  It is difficult to write about this without being maudlin, so I’ll aim for brevity.  He loved me in a way that worked for me.  I in turn drove him crazy.  When he left, he took all my secrets – every single one.  I censored little, though I’m sure he would have preferred if I had censored more; but I gave him all I had and I don’t think he ever doubted that.  And I ache when I think of him, I miss him with a longing that I can’t define.  Years ago I downloaded a voicemail he left me on my birthday – singing Happy Birthday and ending with “I love you sweetheart”.  I have to turn that cassette into a cd, just to hear him one more time.

Time – August plays a game with  my head when it comes to time.  I move from moment to moment without volition, allowing events and memories to wash over me as water from a cascading stream.  It has to flow in this way, and I have to follow its lead.  It isn’t easy, I slip, lose my footing, but ultimately remain standing.  Sometimes life compresses, other times it expands.  August is.

“No matter how much time passes, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion, memories we can never rub away.” — Haruki Murakami

 

52 thoughts on “Holding August

  1. Been thirty two years since me and The Brunette as of August 7th.Truly an amazing month! 🙂

    I figure it as the halfway point so summer isn’t really over. But I do begin thinking about raking leaves…

    – J.

  2. This is so beautifully written, sweet friend, and so poignant. Your warmth, love, joy, sorrow— everything seeps through in every phrase.

    “If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

    I know how much you miss your dad, but he is with you honey, and we who love you so are blessed because you are here with us….. all there is….

  3. You brought it all together so beautifully. I’m actually going to read some of this again with my seven-year-old son who’s birthday’s landing on the day before school begins this year. He’s had the attitude that it sucks so this will help a lot.

  4. Mimi, I love this writing, you make me smile when you write and the way you love is so breathless. You are a very special lady. 😉

    • Ah Marquita, love is a breathless kind of emotion isn’t it? So hard to explain, yet impossible not to hold with all the power in your being..

  5. Tears in free flow as I remember Jack well. Smiling at the same time for I’ve been in the presence of your blessings and not to feel your love for each other – you and Andy – is too not be human or dog ( would I dare omit the Sirs?). Happy Anniversary honey. Jack is smiling too and while his princess has absolutely earned the right to be Queen, wherever he is ” the happily ever after” and the realization that you know you have been blessed from day 1 has him beaming with pride. To the moon and back.

    • I love that you knew him Jo – that you read this with the intimate knowledge that I have when I think of your parents. How lucky we are to have that reference point for each other. And if he’s beaming? All the better. He taught me how..to the moon and back.

  6. Beautiful, beautiful as always! Amazing, 19 yrs tomorrow that I lost my hero, my dad, too. But also celebrate the birthday of a very dear friend the same day. It’s the metaphoric door closing/window opening I’m certain. It will be 19 years of enjoying a peanut buster parfait on August 9th, because although he “never met an ice cream he didn’t like,” the PBP at the DQ was his favorite. It’s the only one my mom, sister, brother and I eat all year. With every bite I privately pay homage to him, and pretend he’s there with me, enjoying every ooey gooey bite. Thank you for sharing the quote, it’s perfect!

    • I honor your dad’s memory with you Suz – I know how much you adored him and vice versa. Enjoy your trip to the DQ, and know that he appreciates the symbolism as much as you and your family enjoy the tradition..xo

  7. Beautiful, and you shine through it as only you can. You are blessed, as is anyone blessed enough to be part of your world. Much love and many happy happy returns. xoxo

  8. This a wonderful and what a special bond you had. I was born in January and both my parents (in different years) died in January so that month is very sad for me. I will tell you that a January birthday is even worse than August because no one wants to go out in the cold weather. My Dad was born in August so I always spend the month reminiscing about him.

    • The full circle all in one month – it’s a lot to absorb isn’t it? I hope your reminiscences bring a smile to your face as I’m sure they simultaneously bring a tear..

  9. What a month! Glad it is so full of meaning for you. Am thinking this is (part of, at least) the secret to your inner joy (which I, hardly knowing you, see poured out in buckets with each post you write)–things means something to you. Love it when life–the little and the big, all of it–means something to people 🙂

    • Hi Liz – what a really wonderful comment to make! I do feel things deeply and if it even partially translates in how I write, then I’m all the happier. Sometimes I think my skin could be a bit thicker, but all in all, it’s probably not worth the sacrifice on the ‘feeling’ side. 😉

  10. I am blessed to have been on the Mimi train for the past 22 years. While August may be so very poignant for you, every month with you is a treasure. Happy Birthday & Happy Anniversary dollgirl. You’re the best!!

  11. Beautiful post all around Mimi. Congratulations and happy birthday. Like you father my late father also used to sing me happy birthday. Every year, without fail the call would come at 7.30am on the my birthday. We are both blessed.

  12. What a trinity of dates. As time goes by, it seems fewer and fewer months are safe from significant…..events. But good ones, sometimes, too…

    That picture of you and your Dad is just wonderful. It is so cool that you have his voice on recording. I had my sister’s for a time, but then accidentally deleted it, or got a new phone–I can’t quite remember. But the voice is a great thing to have. It caresses the ears. Staunches the pain, a little maybe.

  13. Oh Mims…this is stunning, just absolutely beautiful. The way you describe your coming together with Andy, your father and his absence in the years since his passing’ just leave me with a lump in my throat, for so many reasons. The photo of you and your father; no words, at all. Just the best feeling, ever. You just know how to evoke that emotion that hides out in the in between layers, not deep enough to ignore or put away, and yet too tender to live at the surface, but just.right.there. Ready for when I come across words that only you can write…and the post title? Perfect. xoxo to you my dear.

  14. Love. Love reading your stories. Amazing! Congrats’ on your wedding anniversary and hugs to you for the loss of your daddy. My special Man and I celebrated 43 years of marriage on August 22nd. August is very special to us as well. Our daughter turned another year older on August 7th and my Hubby and Grand daughter are both on August 12th. I am surrounded by ‘Leo’s’ and yes they ‘do rock’. 🙂 Happy belated Birthday to you too! hugs, Renee ♥

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