September 11th was my mother's birthday. Two years ago, on that day, my mother who had been in and out of the hospital was released to go home--for the last time, it turned out. It was the best present she could have received at the time. I went home to see her shortly thereafter for about 10 days, then 5 days after I came back, she passed away. And that was October 5th.
Summer turning into fall is one of my favorite times of the year. As I grew up in Tokyo, that meant it was a relief from the beastly heat, and you could wear cute jackets but not have to bundle up. But even as I have lived in Seattle for 14 years where the summer is the most beautiful time of year, something about the cool air and adding a comforter to your bed seems cozy. And the rain just adds to that.
But now, between September 11th and October 5th is a pensive time for me. The day of my mother's funeral was beautiful. Sunny and warm. And so gorgeous fall days will forever be associated with that time. My father recently told me that he recalls cherry blossoms in full bloom when his mother passed away (he was 16 at the time), which is another beautiful time of year in Japan. He didn't articulate it, but I imagine he thinks about that every spring.
Last year, I went home alone to attend the one year anniversary gathering. There is a two year gathering this year, but I am unable to go. Once again, the distance is separating me from my family--I wish I was just a train ride or car drive away, but I am not. All I can do is to call my dad and chat with him, look up at the sky and search for my mother and report to her about my daughter in my head. I go over and over about things I said and didn't say and the very last hug my mother gave me which was weak but lingering.
Recently, I was back on stage after almost 12 years. It was play about The Manhattan project called The Realm of Whispering Ghosts and much to my shock, I had one of the four principals, and with the most amount of lines, which almost did me in. I played a young (!!) woman who died in Hiroshima bombing and tries to go back in time to change history. Her character was determined, loyal, relentless, and strong. She was my mother. I thought of her every time I was out there and when my husband saw it, the first thing he said was "your character reminded me of your mom," and we hadn't even discussed it.
Then around the time of her birthday, a calendar, which is produced by an organization my mother was a part of, fell to the floor while my husband was near by. He picked it up and tacked it back on the wall and it fell twice after that. When he went to pick it up for the third time, he uttered, "I know it's your birthday, Janet."
I suppose that is how people live on. By haunting you in good ways and bad and lingering in your thoughts and sense memories.
Maybe I will take myself to church on October 5th. That'll shock her.