The Second Would-Be Birthday
Time Dulls Most Pain
He argued with me about what age he would have been. The math wasn’t difficult, he would have been 74.
I waited until he asked me. Until he was unsure of himself. People are always sure of themselves regarding their dead until they ask and are proven wrong.
Then it’s like the shore has come in; cold waves crash upon them as they say in a low voice “Oh… I guess he would have been [insert age here]…”
This didn’t happen last year. He knew the age then, but not knowing it now is what mattered. The second crash. The disbelief.
People forget. It’s in our nature. It’s a defense mechanism I wish I didn’t have, or at the very least wish wasn’t so potent, maybe I’d remember my childhood then.
Or maybe I should be thankful…
Maybe he should be too.
The pain doesn’t leave easily, but when it loses that sting while you’re barbecuing on the 4th of July or skinny dipping for the first time or trying that new Chinese place you’ll end up loving, maybe that’s better.
The next day was my grandfather’s second would-be birthday. Fresh flowers decorated his grave, and my father would not confirm with me his would-be age ever again.