Wake Me Up When October Ends

You know how there are some dates and days that are tainted? Like when your gaze lingers on a digital display as the numbers blink “9:11” and you instinctively shudder? For me, that’s Tuesdays. For me, that’s all of October.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it?” – Anne of Green Gables, Lucy M. Montgomery

No, it wouldn’t. Because I’d like to scrub Octobers from my memory. I’d like to forget a Tuesday morning phone call and a shaking voice — choked sobs from a throat I always knew as stoic and strong — and a plane ticket booked blindly and a car taken numbly. I’d like to forget that flight, where I fought not to lose it and a well-dressed lady complained about sitting next to two people of color when she’d paid for the extra-legroom seat. I guess it didn’t occur to her that we’d paid for our seats, too. That, for me, it was the only one available as I frantically checked the airlines…as I still hoped Dad’s heart attack was mild and not fatal.

Hope is a funny thing, though. Fragile and tiny — that thing with feathers — and so easily crushed. Tuesday, October, 7, is when mine was ground to pulp under a cruel boot heel. It’s called the “left anterior descending artery” or the LAD. It sounds technical and unassuming until you hear that the other name for it is the “widowmaker.” Blockage of this artery leads to  a massive heart attack and almost certain death.

I hate this day. I hate this week. I hate this month. More than anything I hate that my father is not here when he should be. He should’ve made it to 80. He should’ve made it to his and Mom’s 50th anniversary. He had time, damn it. We had time.

That’s what everyone says when they lose someone, don’t they? Because we’re selfish and we’d like to think it’s true. That we’re owed more minutes, more hours, more days and weeks. That my last view of Dad shouldn’t have been of him in his flower-and-sandalwood heaped coffin. That his tiny gold-colored tie-pin shouldn’t be all I have left of that horrible day.

I hate Tuesdays. I hate October. I hate that there’s a hole in my family that cannot be filled. I hate that this season of pumpkin spice lattes and cute boots and Halloween costumes just means my father isn’t launching into discussions of football on the phone with me while I go, “Daaad, I don’t caaaare. Go talk to my brother about this.”

They don’t tell you that “fall” means you’ll land so damn hard.

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