The annual not-a-ritual post

kids.jpgTwo years. I still struggle with whether I want to mark the anniversary of Steve’s death because the date itself — the first day of fall, the changing of a season — is not something I want to have power over me. I don’t like ritual for the sake of ritual. As Steve might have said, a year is only a year through the accident of our culture choosing the solar Gregorian calendar.

His birthday, the start of summer aka the anniversary of his diagnosis, the release of a movie he would have liked, the ridiculousness of certain people that would have made us laugh together in frustration, the launch of a rocket or the news of a scientific discovery that isn’t news or a discovery at all — it all makes me think of him as much as the anniversary of his death.

And yet it’s here and it’s been on my mind, and I think about how I dealt with it last year: to look forward to what I want to make of life in the next year. Maybe by default that becomes how I mark the occasion, updating my not-a-bucket list.

Looking back at last year, I did nothing about improving my Spanish but I did take some drawing and painting classes. I did find a yoga studio I like, and even go there sporadically. I am going to the Galapagos and mainland Ecuador in November — which should help as a crash course in Spanish — and have a possibility to go to Haida Gwaii next year. I write every day, though I can only count it as for pleasure every day if I consider the pleasure I get from being paid so I can go on exotic vacations. I have not taken a helicopter ride but I’ll carry that one forward as a “some day but I’m in no rush to pursue” item.

I also continued to nourish the parts of me that remind me of him, attending a NASA rocket launch, visiting a space shuttle at the California Science Center, rewatching movies or TV shows we saw together. Getting a tattoo he would have thought was nuts but maybe would have found touching, too. I got rid of people and things that sucked the life out of me, like my TV, eh? website, and brought it back when it got meaningful and fun again.

And for the coming year? More of the same, I guess – make sure I keep trying to move forward, be the person I want to be, never filling the hole he’s left but filling the well inside me so the hole doesn’t take over. Being able to laugh at myself for making horrible mixed metaphors like that.

So what’s next: more travel, more learning, more connecting with people who get me to counteract what feels like shrinking world, more looking into whether I can make some of my “some day I’d like to…” dreams be more than just dreams, because of course there’s no guarantee there are many “some days” left.

And on that happy note, I’ll go mark this anniversary day by living the life I’ve built for myself. Today that means hanging out with my Little Sister and working on a freelance article whose deadline is coming up. And maybe tonight I’ll rewatch The Fifth Element and think of my big brother who first made me watch it, while knowing I don’t need that kind of ritual for him to be a part of my life.

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One Response to The annual not-a-ritual post

  1. Jen says:

    I think he’d be very pleased with you living that life!

    I’ve always wanted to place more emphasis on some other day, like my dad’s birthday or something, but the anniversary always seems to come up in my mind. Last year maybe not as much because I was just getting back from my cross-country trip, but still…

    We make it through the way we do. And they’d have loved that no matter what, I think.

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