Days in May

Well, May, here you are, halfway gone, you complicated month, you. May is one of the most crowded months in our family calendar, and one of the most reviled. There’s mother’s day, Jeff’s birthday, Chris’s birthday, Chris and Em’s dating anniversary, Em’s birthday. It used to be a whirlwind of cake and celebration. But then Chris got sick, and added to May got less noble anniversaries like the day Chris slipped into a coma, the day the doctor told us we had to unplug him, the day he died, his funeral. Less cake and way less celebrating. Stupid May. Month that both brought Chris and took him away. Month that made Mother’s Day a complicated joke of a holiday. Month that gave us all so much sadness only heightened by all those years of May gladness. Stupid May when everything is in bloom but all our thoughts are witheredy death. Stupid.

So then you think, how am I supposed to live? Honestly, how am I supposed to go on, in the face of such sadness, but more importantly, how should I comport myself in order to truly honour the memory of someone who wanted so much to stay on this earth? I made a decision, early on, that I was not doing anyone any good by being in perpetual mourning. That if Chris couldn’t be here to live, then damn it, I was going to have to do it for both of us. The sadness helped me up to a point, and then after that, being sad and angry was kind of holding me back. So I cut it out, by and large. Writing a book from those feelings helped too.

And then eight years ago, Jeff and Michelle made the excellent, brave and healing decision to hold their wedding on May 17, Chris’s birthday, the most confusing day of them all. The other sorrowful anniversaries were straightforward. But how could you be sad on Chris’s birthday? It just didn’t make sense. So Jeff and Mich made it make more sense by turning it back into a day of cake and celebration.

And here we are again. May 17. My amazing older brother would have been 43 today, and doubtless king of the world. He was so smart, he was kind, he was funny, he could play guitar and write songs better than you. He had two gorgeous daughters he’d be in awe of now. Today he’d be sitting back with his lovely wife, watching them go out into the world, making sure they came home in time for cake and celebration.

May 17 and Jeff and Michelle celebrate another year together, their two great kids, the life they’ve built close by family and friends. Cake and celebration. There’s not much more that’s needed in this life.

As for that book, in honour of Chris’s birthday, here’s a piece from Homing, a piece of fiction loosely inspired by Chris and his guitar. Happy birthday, brother.

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4 Comments on “Days in May”

  1. Alfreda Zaher says:

    Beautifully written Steph! Our thoughts are with you all today. Remembering Chris with love and missing him so much. Love Aunt Freda

  2. Erika says:

    Beautifully written, Steph.

  3. […] May is a classically hard month for my family. I’ll be seeing them next week and there’s a certain amount of […]

  4. […] with life, and then crushing it all overnight with unexpected frost. May, as I have written ad nauseum elsewhere, is a complicated and storied month. I have learned not to presuppose how May will […]


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