A few thoughts about July 27: The days that haunt us

It is, in my time zone, still July 27th, and all day I have debated whether I should call attention to what this date means to me.

For many years, July 27th was, quite simply, my wedding anniversary. Celebrated with affection for years and then, as my marriage became increasingly untenable, barely noted in passing. Since my marriage ended the date typically passed like any other, but every now and then something would occur that caused me to remember the distant significance of the day. Like a fading echo down the years.

Today, my brothers and I accepted an offer on our parents’ house—just shy of one week after it was listed, just over one year after they died. Good news given the poor economy and the less than prosperous state of the village they lived in. But, money and estate matters tend to stir up family tensions. A testy conversation earlier this morning has left me feeling defensive, angry even. And no matter how hopeful it is to be one step further in the process of moving beyond the aftermath of our parents’ unexpected and overlapping deaths, it is not easy.

But the July 27th that I cannot even begin to address involves another encounter with death. My own.

Two years ago today, shortly after midnight, I went into cardiac arrest. I have written very little about this episode because I have no memory of the incident or the days immediately before or after. It has been difficult to process this event, or what it means. The cause was a pulmonary embolism, likely related to travel. I survived because my son happened to hear me, called emergency, and started CPR. But it’s not that simple. Family dynamics again.

Several times I have contemplated writing through the trauma. Try to understand why I survived. What it means.

If this near-death experience had gifted me some magical insight into the preciousness of life, I could write one of those finely crafted inspiring pieces filed under the category: Creative Nonfiction.

I have tried. That’s not my style. I am beginning to understand that my life only makes sense in scraps and fragments, even more now than ever.

I am forever in the process of writing myself into being.

 Time to gather those scraps and fragments.

Image copyright Joseph Schreiber, 2017

29 thoughts on “A few thoughts about July 27: The days that haunt us

  1. Thank heavens your son was nearby! Now that we are f2f friends, and even before that, I consider myself fortunate to have stumbled on this blog and to have become one of its regular readers. There may be people out there who think ‘it’s just a blog’ but they are wrong. Those of us in our network of LitBlogs know just how much our fellowship means. We are not unique, but there are not many of us and when there is no one in our f2f lives who likes the same kind of books as we do, it could be lonely. But it’s not, because we have each other.
    Just as I was enriched by reading every word written by Kevin from Canada and still keenly miss him since his passing (https://kevinfromcanada.wordpress.com/category/kevins-death/) I know that I would miss your niche if it were not here, and I would certainly miss your friendship. So, please, give that son of yours a big hug from me next time you see him, and say thanks to him on my behalf!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Lisa. I think I told you about my son’s issues and our complicated co-dependent relationship. That is, of course, what processing that experience hinges on.
      I too treasure the friendships I have made on line, and it’s even better when the opportunity to connect in real life arises. We had such a great time that day in Melbourne. I’m so glad to be able to count you among my blog friends and my, as you put it, f2f friends!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, we did talk about that relationship, but not in quite this way. But if you can, I’d like him to know that there are others that he will never know that ‘owe him one’ as we say here in Australia.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve been through so much in the last few years. Many others would have bowed under that pressure but you are clearly made of stronger stuff. A few experiences like the testy conversation today are horrid when they happen but you are a fighter and will come through.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lisa puts things beautifully in her comment, and you have indeed gone through so many major happenings since I stumbled upon your blog. I can empathise about the problems of dealing with an estate – we have been dealing with my mother-in-law’s recently and it’s caused no end of friction. I hope this will pass for you – and time *does* bring a kind of peace, as I’m finding myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I should probably see an analogy in this plant (the mock orange). This bush was half dead and years ago, not long after my divorce and the start of my transition, I tried to dig it out but didn’t have the right tools. So I hacked it back to the ground and sure enough it was back the next year and is flourishing to this day.

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  4. Beautiful. And you know, writing (the kind we need, as readers and writers) finds its own shape. Finely-crafted, utilitarian, seamless, pieced, fragmentary, unlikely remnants fused together in interesting ways — it’s all worth our attention. This is one piece of something larger. I’ll be interested to see how you bring your ideas, scraps, etc. together!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Theresa. I find my reading is very much focused on structure and form—both in memoir and contemporary experimental fiction. I am hoping that whatever evolves does so organically, in concert with the substance of my story, not in a manner which is forced or artificial.

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  5. As someone who is strongly pulled by scraps and fragments (quilts, collage), the idea that you, Joseph, can only make sense of your life through them resonates deeply. You have a gift for conveying much with just a few words. Your scraps and fragments are alive with meaning.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a lovely, honest post, Joe. Thanks for sharing. What a very complicated date this is for you. I remember your very early posts in this blog, and the pain and uncertainty they contained. This post shows me how far you have come in reconciling your life and your self. How dreadful it would have been – for your self and for us – had you not survived that event. All the best …

    Liked by 1 person

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