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Rosalie D. Heart

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Blogs by Rosalie D. Heart

Anniversaries, Choices, and Perceptions
3/27/2012 7:00:39 AM
I survived the sudden death of my teenage son, Mike Each anniversary demands a different response as I learn more about life, connection, and play.

Anniversaries, Choices, and Perception

Have you ever thought about something and then things happen that seem to connect to what you were pondering? Last week I started to anticipate the approaching anniversary of my son’s death. This will be the 35th year that I have counted off the days until March 23rd has come and gone. Each year I am surprised by the vividness of the details of Mike’s death and life. My emotional memory knows no time.
For the past few years I have deliberately chosen to carry on with my normal activities instead of devoting the day to remembering Mike. My perceptions and understanding have changed over the decades. I no longer need to devote an entire day to remembering Mike because I now honor his life by celebrating myself. This year I decided to join my swimming buddies for my regular workout. None of my new pool friends knows me as the mother of a dead son.
I returned to my journal to continue to reflect on perception and how personal perception is. Then the phone rang and I learned about the death of another friend—the fourth friend who has died this year. I sent out a prayer and felt my sadness that Jim and I now no longer would be evolutionary buddies-at least not on this dimension. Then I was over whelmed by a deep appreciation for the privilege of knowing Jim this lifetime. one of the lessons that has surprised me over time is how subtlety expressed grief shape shifts into appreciation. I sighed and smiled and then returned to writing about perceptions and how uniquely personal our perceptions are. Mike’s death changed forever my perception and relationship with death, life, and the process of honoring all.
Later in the day I wrote:
Normal was disrupted today. My first clue was the crowded swimming parking lot. My second clue was the loud shouts that escaped from the swimming pool building even with the door closed. My third clue was no empty lockers in the changing room.
When I opened the door to the pool, I felt like I hit a wall of screams. The kid’s side of the pool overflowed with elementary aged children. Their shrieks and screams and whistles made my head ache.
I walked toward the steps and tried to shake off the noise. As I walked closer to the edge of the pool, I noticed that each child was smiling and enjoying their “alternative exercise.” The parents and teachers who supervised seemed happy, too. As I searched for a vacant spot to jump into the pool, one of the teachers motioned the kids to move over and shouted in my ear that she hoped her class would not disturb my swimming routine.
I smiled and said loudly, “ I am glad to see so many happy kids. Good for all of you for arranging this and even getting wet yourselves.”
When I joined my quiet, senior group, everyone commented about the unexpected invasion of children. One woman, shrugged, grimaced and said sternly, “At this moment, I wished I were deaf,” and swam off. Another friend covered his ears and said he was leaving because he could not swim with all the noise. Willy shrugged, smiled and said, “Good kids, good parents and teachers” and later I watched as he initiated a game of ball tag with half the group. Still anther disgruntled senior swimmer said, “I’m glad I didn’t put my hearing aids in today because even without them, this noise is intolerable.”
Perhaps because i was conscious of appreciating the lives-now gone-of Mike and Jim, or maybe because I delight in being outrageously spontaneous, I screamed, “I’ll bet we can scream even louder than they can,” to the group who gathered at the far end of the pool near the diving board.
One woman looked me in the eye and said, “Do you really think so?”
“No question,” I replied. “I’ve been a mother, a grandmother and a teacher and I have had lots of experience exercising my loud voice.”
“What do you say? Are you in? I know we have the power to out shout them and surprise them, too.”
One by one, my swimming companions swam off. Only one remained.
“Are you in?” I challenged.
She pointed to our disappearing friends and said, “It’s only the two of us left.”
“So?’ I said.
“Do you think we have a chance?”
“How many kids did you raise?
“Five,” she responded.
“How many times did you raise your voice?
“Too many to count,“ she replied.
“Are you ready to have some fun?” I asked.
She nodded. We moved closer to one another. Our friends watched us from a safe distance.
“At the count of three, let’s scream like we mean it. Let’s play kids.”
One, two three. We opened our mouths wide and our screams echoed around the pool, circling several times before we both ran out of breath. All activity stopped. The four lifeguards stared at us. Then two rushed over to see what was wrong. Silence reigned in the pool. In unison we burst into boisterous laughter, followed by high fives.
Then one of our friends who had deserted us swam over and said, “You two are acting worse than the kids,” in a disapproving voice. We laughed louder and splashed him with water. He splashed me back and we both ducked under water. When I emerged, I hugged myself and remembered Mike and felt connected to him in joy-not grief.
I left the pool marveling again about how unique our perceptions of events are.
In the evening, I returned to my journal and wrote:
I enjoyed acknowledging Mike’s memory today. I had no need to share the meaning of the day with my new pool friends. I appreciated my playfulness and ability to be light and felt like I had honored both of us on this day.

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More Blogs by Rosalie D. Heart
• Weaving Anger, Palm Sunday, and April Fool's Day - Monday, April 02, 2012
•  Anniversaries, Choices, and Perceptions - Tuesday, March 27, 2012  
• Kindness Multiplied - Wednesday, January 04, 2012
• My Swimming Community - Monday, January 02, 2012
• Soccer and Love - Wednesday, November 30, 2011
• soccer As Moving Meditation - Wednesday, October 19, 2011
• Angels and Awaken - Wednesday, October 05, 2011
• Love - Wednesday, October 05, 2011
• Equinox 2011 - Tuesday, October 04, 2011
• September 11th - Tuesday, October 04, 2011
• Completions and Giveaways - Tuesday, October 04, 2011

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