One of my personal flaws—and there are many—is my inability to recall important dates. I remember the birthdays of only a few people, but only if they are conspicuous by date. I recall, for example, people with birthdays immediately near mine. I recall birthdays that happen to fall on or near Christmas.
Anniversaries evade me.
March 11, however, is a date I’m incapable of shaking. I drag March 11 along behind me or push it ahead of me throughout the rest of the year.
Six years ago, on this date, Uyen Hegman breathed in the last of the sweet air perfumed by our Mayday tree and fell into the silence from which no one escapes. I and our daughter were holding her hand as she breathed her last.
Let me tell you about Uyen.
Uyen had a smile like ten-thousand snow geese taking flight at once. She loved family, and all children, and cats and dogs, and sewing, and planting seeds “whenever she wanted,” and picking huckleberries. Though she came from war, she brought only peace.
In the first weeks after losing someone, you want to clang bells, you want to scream, slam doors. Then you go through a period of quiet. On the other side of the quiet you come to place of centering. Once again you balance your life between high and low inputs, fond memories and bitter pills.
Today, I am thankful for the time I shared with Uyen and I am thankful for the life I presently have. They are joined.
Posted is a photograph of Uyen in a low huckleberry patch.
That’s the smile I’m talking about.