Whole worlds of them are stuck in my mind, and pop up at the oddest moments. Dates of birthdays - November 5, August 21, October 21, my junior high school boyfriends. Dates of events - February 2, March 21, December 19, musical performances that were meaningful. Of course, all the truly meaningfull dates are etched in memory. Dates of joy -May 8, February 23, my wedding, my son's birth. Dates of loss-May 15, February 9, September 11, grandmother, grandfather, beloved dog. Another anniversary of loss is approaching - January 31, the death by suicide of a special young man, a former student, who was likely the most intelligent young person I've even known. Book smart, yes, but also a young person whose mind worked differently, with incredible lightening speed. Looking into his eyes while carrying on a conversation was like glimpsing the inner workings of a supercomputer, for you could almost see the sparks flying, brain synapses in rapid fire.
It's been two years this month, and when the date of his birth (September 1 - that's another one I remember) and the date of his death approach, I recall the waste inherent in this loss. But I also recall the memory of his laughter, his wit, his outgoing eagerness to make friends with everyone (which he did, with unerring grace). It troubles me that a man like this cannot live in our world, for it is men like this whom the world so desperately needs.
In a recent conversation with his mother, who has been working to attach his name to a memorial archive at The University of Michigan, where he was editor of the Michigan Daily, she said with what sounded like desperation, "I just want people to remember him."
Of course she does. She wants people to remember that his presence on this earth, although far too brief, was not in vain, that his life counted for something more than just another statistic.
And so dates on the calendar become small blessings, reminders of people who should not be forgotten. January 31 -a date I remember. Postscript: It's late Sunday night, and I just had a phone call from the brother of the young man I wrote about in this post. He's asked me to set aside another important date- October 3, his wedding. And he's asked me to play piano for the occasion. Can you guess that I'm smiling?
for more about dates, go here