The Train of Memory

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Passover is over, the train of memory that carried me into this year’s observance has moved on.  Working on the memoir I’m writing has meant living in the present moment (or as close to being present to the present as I can get) while on some level reliving the turbulent years that are at the center of the book.  Part of the book’s story is Eric’s illness and death.  Eric’s metastatic disease was first diagnosed just before Passover in 2006, and Passover this year was almost exactly the same time as that year.  It makes sense that the overlay of date and season, along with significant immersion in my experience of that period of my life, would make this Passover carry an extra weight of memory and grief.

One thing I’ve discovered in working on the memoir is how much of the story of Eric’s illness I was telling David two years later, shortly after we met.  Many days in April of 2008 I was writing emails and letters to David, telling him what had been happening on that day two years before — this is the weekend Eric first slept all weekend and hardly ate, this is the day he went back to the doctor and ended up at the hospital, and on and on.  I couldn’t help reliving everything and writing it down helped make it easier to carry. Having David to write it to made it easier still.

I’m having another one of those years.  Because I’m writing about and reading about remembering each day as if overlaid with that day in 2006, I found myself back on the train of memory.  Here is a letter I wrote to David on April 13, 2008:
Eric’s diagnosis came just before Passover, the Jewish calendar is lunar so the dates float across the Roman calendar. Two years ago tonight was the night we were going to host a Seder here with our NH Jewish friends, a Seder tradition dating back to when we first moved to NH.  I was so delusional in the face of Eric’s mounting illness I’d shopped for the big Seder the weekend before even while knowing on some level it would never happen.  So two years ago Eric was just home from the hospital and we did a little Seder with just the family. Eric told the Passover story, gave a short history on the tradition of the Seder, and Matt told Adrienne later that it had been great to listen to Eric, he’d learned so much, he wished he’d have more Passovers with Eric. Adrienne told Eric Matt had said that, then Eric said to me (so much circular conversation!) “Well, that’s a reason to stay alive for another year. To teach Matt more.” And Eric was dead in three weeks. Yikes. I’ve been crying a lot tonight.

But time is on its constant track, so even as I remember sad times from eight years ago, or remember remembering six years ago, today is today and we had a wonderful Seder last week with some of those same friends.

 

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About Grace Mattern

Grace Mattern is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, partner, friend, family member, gardener, triathlete, hiker and for 30 years was the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She resigned her position at the Coalition on June 15, 2011 in order to concentrate on her writing, while continuing to engage in the movement to end violence against women as a consultant and advisor. Her chapbook Fever of Unknown Origin was published in 2001 and her full-length poetry book The Truth About Death was published in 2012.
This entry was posted in Family, Grief, Moving On, Seasons. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Train of Memory

  1. wow -such intensity – sweet sadness

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