The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Missed Anniversary

Febuary 8th just past, was the 6th anniversary of the death of my mother, from a rare form of cancer of the ear. Who knew such things existed? She was 65.

For the first 3 years or so, every time it was coming up towards the anniversary, I would be overcome with grief from a couple of weeks before to several weeks afterwards.

Last year I only remembered on the evening of the anniversary itself.

This year I forgot all about it until last night, 2 days after.

Does this mean I care less about her? Of course not. I still miss her profoundly, and always will, but I have a greater level of acceptance she is no longer here.

I take this as a good sign.

Perhaps it's like the fact I always find an overgrown grave more comforting than a well attended one with fresh flowers.

I don't believe in any kind of afterlife - gods, spirits or ghosts - so a gravestone is not about the person who died, it's about the people who lived on afterwards.

A well attended grave indicates relatives who have not yet been able to find a way to move on enough to leave it.

When I die, like my mother I'd prefer to be cremated. I'd hate to feel those who survive me feel they need to maintain a plot of land out of a sense of obligation.


debra said...

Funny how things become part of our consciousness rather that being our consciousness. I think about my parents often, and reflect on the loss of the buffer between mortality and me. It's a sobering thought at times, and bittersweet at other times.
When my Dad died, he was cremated. He wanted his ashes to be buried with my Mom (whose body was buried in a crypt---fitting for her). We made a bio-degradable urn which was buried on top of the crypt. Back to the earth.
Take care of yourself.

Sarah said...

knowing moms.. i'm sure she would have wanted it that way.

i want to be cremated too. i've told everyone who will listen to throw a party and celebrate how i made them laugh and to remember the good times.

mourning has it's place too. but i don't make a lot of people cry with my life, so i'd like to keep it that way.

Charlie said...

Grieving, as you probably know, has several phases, and I think you've reached the final one--acceptance. You've accepted that she is gone, but you have not forgotten her--and never will.

My mother died in 1965 and I still think of her sometimes, I still miss her sometimes, and I wish that I could still ask her little boy questions sometimes . . .

savannah said...

i've asked my children to have me cremated and to scatter my ashes on the river. no need to buy land you can't build on, sugar! ;) xoxox

Carole said...

Very nice post. I have not lost a parent yet, so I suspect that will be a hard thing. My folks plan to be cremated also, so there will be no grave to decorate.

the broken down barman said...

i think funerals are over rated. the are good for family to say good be and to see how well liked people are.
i feel it is more important to talk about people and remember them. the stories i hear over the counter top make me laugh and cry. i know so much about people who ive never met. this is how people should be remembered, good and bad, rights and wrongs. people say not to speak ill of the dead. i agree, just tell the truth.

in want to be buried in a cardboard box with a tree planted on top and a bench as my headstone.
come sit in my company and relax from the stresses of modern life

Eryl Shields said...

I'm so glad you've reached that final stage. My mother was ill for a good five years before she died in her 80th year, so I think I went through a lot of the grieving process while she was still around. Three years on the anniversary of her death is just like any other day. Like you I don't believe in an afterlife, but I do feel she is still with me, so no need to mourn or miss her.

Bob says he's going to throw me off a cliff whilst playing Nick Cave songs.

karatemom said...

my sympathies again on your loss..yesterday was the 15th anniversary of the death of my birth father ( whom I had only known a very brief time before his sudden death)...I found even though I remembered him it was as you said not the same as the year before. This time it won the anniversary last year it was like you a day or two ahead. so I think you may be right, it is a way of accepting, not dwelling, remembering not obsessing, healing, not aching.
take care my friend

Fat Lazy Guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fat Lazy Guy said...

I can't imagine what it's like to lose a parent. And I really have no idea how I want my body to be handled after I die.

Stay good, man.

The Hangar Queen said...

I think your mam would be just fine with the missed anniversary.Life is for the living after all.
I'd love to show you the chaos of the graveyard where many members of my family are buried in Limerick.Machetes have to be used to clear the grass away sometimes and no matter how many times I've been there it always take an age to find the sites.Scattered as they are all over the shop.
A very democratic place and utterly Irish in it's disdain of uniformity and rules.
We love our dead but we love our living more.

Mrs Pouncer said...

My father died last week. The pain is almost bearable now. He left instructions: that he was to be cremated, and his ashes "taken home". Just typing that makes me cry.

Kim Ayres said...

Thank you all for your warm comments.

Eryl - Is that after you've died, or to ensure you're dead?

Mrs Pouncer - my sorrows for your loss. In my experience, the pain comes and goes in waves. As you feel the wave building up rather than try and resist, just let it wash over you. You will not be swept away, it will just wash up the beach then recede.

Brave Astronaut said...

The anniversary of my mother's passing comes for me in two weeks (on the 26th). Three years now.

Recently I was faced with a situation that at the end of it, all I wanted to do was call my mother, because she would have loved the story.

My mother, too, was cremated, as will be my father when his time comes. After that, my siblings and I have instructions to bring their remains to Bermuda and sprinkle them upon the waters of their favorite place.

In the ever rushing moments of daily life, I also wonder at how my life has been changed by mother's absence. When I find a moment of solace and quiet, I often find myself talking to her. And I know she is always with me.

Peace, my good friend.

Kim Ayres said...

Ah yes, there's so much we'd like to share with them.

Layla said...

Hi Kim
I only just remembered this morning that yesterday was the anniversary of our dad dying. I felt so guilty forgetting about it, but reading your post has made me feel a lot better.

Kim Ayres said...

Thank you for writing that, Layla, it makes me feel better too :)

Z said...

Like Eryl, I grieved for my mother before she died - 6 months before in fact. When she did die, and the 6th anniversary of that is coming up, I made a decision not to mark the date - that is, I know it because I can't help remembering, but I don't observe it. Nor do I observe the day my father died in 1970, but I still miss and remember them.

PI said...

If I were your mother I would much prefer you thought of the happy times we shared rather than my death so I think you are on the right track.
I'm with you about cremation if not about the after life.

heather said...

only slightly similar... i heard a story on npr about a woman in rhode island who kept and has been taking beautiful care of a disabled duck (lemon the duck) and how it's helped her get over the death of her father. it's a beautiful story and i love the videos of the duck and knowing that someone has been so caring. but my heart also goes out to her as i fear the duck may have more distracted her from dealing with her loss than it has helped her 'get over' it... just delaying the grief for however long the duck thrives. not that i know anything about anything...

LetsKeepItNiceAndAnonymous said...

"Perhaps it's like the fact I always find an overgrown grave more comforting than a well attended one with fresh flowers"

Oh my. I've just had one of those moments of complete clarity. That sentence really put things in perspective.

Thank you for expressing what I couldn't understand.

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