It is September.
The Septembers now are strange. Back in the day, when I was young, Septembers meant cooler weather, a storm now and then, which meant thrilling scenes of trees flailing wildly about outside my bedroom windows. When I got frightened, my parents scared me even more with "Our roof might fly away! The avocado tree will fall! The water will get the rats to come out of hiding and they'll stay in your bed!"
Those never happened, by the way, but the roof did leak (every year, no fail) and the tree did lean terribly close to the house (so Papa chopped it down) and the basement did actually flood (but no rats came out thankfully) and that's what September has always been for me.
Four years is a long time. If I had given birth when she'd died, I'd be mommy to a preschooler now. If I had been a freshman, I'd be graduating now. Most of the time, four years feel like a long time and that terrible day is just shadows and whispers. Some days, four years fall away and that terrible day is suddenly so very now.
Grief is a curious thing. You never truly understand it until it happens to you. And when it does, it is something you will never wish on anyone, not even your worst enemy.
It isn't your regular broken heart, which is insanely painful. But you get over a broken heart, believe it or not. And I do believe a broken heart is a good thing, a beautiful thing, because broken hearts are split open, allowing more love and understanding and compassion to come in, and the heart becomes bigger and stronger as it heals.
The grieving heart is also a broken heart but the heart that has lost someone to death, it never heals completely. You think it does, you think you're done, then one day, the strains of Moon River, a whiff of CK Euphoria, a scene from Dolphy's movies, the facade of Megamall A before that new parking building was (mercifully) built in front of it... A little thing, a big thing, they always sneak up on you and BOOM! You unravel.
One cruel day, I was walking along happily from the supermarket on my way home to the loves of my life, when across the street, I saw a woman who looked and walked like Mama. Before I knew it, I had crossed the street, running, dodging cars, calling, "Mama! Mama!" even as my brain screamed, "She's dead! She's dead!"
The woman turned. Of course she wasn't Mama. And I laughed, my hand on my suddenly hollow chest. "Sorry! I'm sorry, you look like my mother."
And she smiled, "Oh! Tell her I think she's beautiful!"
And I laughed again, a little too breathlessly, "I will. I will tell her."
But I don't. I can't.