Have you heard of these people who can remember every distinct day of their lives? They remember the date, what they did, what it was like in great detail. I can't do that, but I do have an excellent memory. It serves me well... most of the time. It's taken a dent thanks to my very dysfunctional thyroid and my constant state of distraction being a mother of 3 very young children. I can tell because I didn't call a best friend on her birthday! Of course, that was somewhat due to the fact that I rarely know what date it is. Generally, though, I like having an excellent memory. I can remember facts and figures and Scripture. I can remember all the details of great moments in my life like opening my first Summer Program acceptance letters. The first time a boy told me I was pretty. The first time I tasted ratatouille or a roasted green chile. The first word spoken by my baby sister. The day Brendan told me he loved me. The day we first had a positive pregnancy test. My first night sleeping next to a baby.
I'm sure you can see where this is going...
I remember painful things with much too much detail as well. First shots, first sprains, first rejections, first sour milk, etc.
Combine this trait with the fact that Special Occasions are basically my favorite thing ever, and you get someone who has a calender FULL of "holidays" that no one else knows about! Poor Brendan. I've finally learned that I am weird, and that I should never expect anyone else to remember these days! Most of the time, it's really fun that I'm like this. April 27th: Happy Tulip Day! Leap Day: Surprise Vacation Day! August 19th: First Time We Discussed Marriage Day! There are more... It's a little ridiculous, but I usually make things fun. My kids, of course, LOVE this about me.
There are sad days too, though, and I always struggle with how to commemorate them. I would like to not care about them. But, I just do. I just have to do something about them. January 25th: Due Date for Miscarried Baby. June 1st: Date of Miscarriage. June 12: Last Day I Danced Ballet on a Stage. March 30th: Ezra's Last Surgery. Again, there are more. Some of the days have more weight than others. Today is November 29th: Date of Injury.
November 29th, 2002. I wrote that down SO MANY TIMES. "Date of Injury?" Caseworker always asked. Receptionist at doctor after doctor always asked. 10 years ago during the dress rehearsal of Nutcracker at the Paramount Theater in downtown Seattle a stage crew made a mistake. My disc was blown, my vertebrae fractured, and my arabesque disappeared. My ability to stand up for more than 5 minutes at a time without pain disappeared. And my hopes of being a ballet dancer began to disappear.
I did cry about it this morning. I think about dancing all the time still. Ballet infects you to the very core when you give yourself over to it. I really figured that 10 years out I'd be over it. But, man, I am not. In 10 years, though, I've learned to stop hoping that I'll get over it. "Better to have loved and lost..." and all that. That day, too, was bizarrely one of the most spiritually in-tune days of my life. Maybe hindsight has made it so, but I felt so exposed to power greater than me that day. I felt that whole day (even before it happened) like I was being watched. During the overture, I fervently prayed that God would please not let me fall that night. I couldn't understand why I was being so paranoid. As the ground was literally pulled out from under me, everything was in such sharp focus, and I could sense the Holy Spirit say, "I'm letting you fall. I know what's happening."
I heard a piece on RadioLab that gave me some scientific explanation of my heightened awareness during those split seconds that felt like a minute. The gist was this: during what feels like a life-threatening event, your memory captures all the details that the brain usually filters out for you because, the theory is, some of those details may be crucial to saving yourself the next time should you survive the event. I was not afraid at all that the fall would kill me. But, I was keenly aware that it could change my life forever. And, indeed, it did. So looking back, it makes sense that I would be alert to spiritual details (REALITIES) that sometimes my brain filters out. Like the soft, constant reassurance of the Christ-sent Helper dwelling in my heart. I remember the smell of the air and of the marley floor, the weight of my gown and petticoat, the feeling of sticky lipstick, and the look on the faces of everyone off-stage-right really well too. Deep inside I knew things were changed- that my direction as a soul in God's kingdom was changed. It was such a strange sensation. My foot and leg hurt, though not enough to make me cry. And, yet, I went upstairs to the dressing room and wept like I'd broken a femur because my heart was broken. I began to feel over the next 6 months (and felt very sharply for a couple years after) that my favorite part of myself had been killed. That sounds SO dramatic. But, that is exactly what happened.
However, God loves every part of me. He has no favorite aspect of me as his creation because EVERYTHING he does, EVERYTHING he has made is wonderful. I'm convinced beyond any doubt that God made me to be a dancer, and that he really, really likes to watch me dance. I just do it in my head now, and he is my sole audience member. And I'm so glad to have my best talent reserved for him alone. It's a deeply personal sacrifice of praise that I can give to him. But, God is equally pleased with me as a cleaner, learner, prayer, cook, driver, friend, wife, doula, board member, church-goer, daughter, mother... I learned that God's plans are better than mine. I learned to BELIEVE that God's plan is better than mine even when it doesn't appear that way to my finite mind. That is my working definition of faith! I draw on these Ebenezer Days that I've set in my calender. Each of them can, should, and usually do remind me of the goodness of God to me and to the world, and his loving-kindness. Some of the days carry bitterness still, I realize. Every now and then, a day will lose it's bitterness as God draws me further along towards spiritual maturity.
I read a quote in my International Doula magazine that I really clicked with. A father, after telling his family's birth story, remarked how amazing the simultaneous sacredness and mundaneness of birth is. That's how I feel about all my Jesky Holidays. There is nothing new under the sun. Bad, good, scary, encouraging, hard, blessed, cursed, beautiful, ugly things happen to people every day. No one is unique or special in their suffering or their blessing no matter how badly we wish we were. Yet, because God made us and appoints our days, everything we do is so laden with significance that we would burst from the knowledge of it all if we could know it. So I will continue to pause on many, many days to remember that I am a special part of God's plans. He has chosen me to be in his family and paid my admittance with the blood of Jesus.
Tonight's commemoration time will be spent reflecting, enjoying my husband's affection, eating favorite snacks, and drinking a small glass of good whisky. Feel free to use my Jesky Holiday as an excuse to do something special yourself.
God made you to recognize him.
Do you have days that loom on your calendar that no one else knows about?