I have a problem. It’s December 29th and I have not bought a new calendar yet. I’m a visual person and I function best as organizer of our family life with a visible reminder of who needs to be where, when, etched out in nice little boxes. I use my digital calendar as well. It beeps at me from my smart phone. But in planning our week, I need to see it, old-school, written out in those squares. I’m picky about calendars, too. They have to have enough room to include stuff and must be in a square calendar format—none of these family line calendars. Neat little columns for days all laid out.
Each year as December approaches, I wrestle with waiting until I cannot wait any longer. After all, my kids have school calendars already planned out. There are stacks of papers I can discard as soon as I have the new little boxes to fill for the second half of the year. There are family birthdays to transfer so that I remember to call and write. Sometimes I have waited until after the first of the year so that I get the calendar half price. But those years have not been my favorites. The organizational peace seemed so much better than saving $6.
But this year a battle is raging in my head. I need the calendar more than ever. I need to be organized and see all my reminders written down. My memory has not been trustworthy these last four months. But I don’t want to buy the calendar. It is more than a calendar. This time it will be the first year without my husband, my partner, my Kraig. This turning of the dates will not just be another year arriving. It will be a whole new year without him in our lives.
He died in September with almost exactly 2/3 of the year done. I sobbed when October first rolled around because now I had to say, “My husband died last month.” The distance seemed more painful somehow. Now I will have to say, “He died last year.”
These pages of neat little squares, once so exciting for me to fill, now are reminders he isn’t in the planning. He isn’t in the schedule nor in helping me accomplish all that I need to handle now on my own. He used to forget to write on my calendar. I scolded him often. “But I told you,” he’d say. I would remind him if it wasn’t in my little squares, I wouldn’t remember. After 20 years, we still hadn’t worked that one out. Now the little squares have no activities for him. And they will have no conflicts that arise because he forgot to write it down. Never thought I’d miss that.
This week I need to get myself a calendar. I’ve decided not to go with the artist I usually get. This year needs to look different on my wall because this year our lives are radically altered. I take no joy in shopping for this one but I need to find just the right one. It needs to make me smile, not fret. It needs to help me keep track of four children’s lives plus my own. And it needs to have space for hope and promise of better days ahead. Pretty sure that’s not in the descriptions of most calendars.
I have wrestled with immensely difficult things since he died. To quote a Hawk Nelson song, “I never knew that anything could be this hard.” God is faithful and He has helped me each step of the way. But I must say, of all the consequences of grief and loss, buying a calendar did not come up on my radar of things I would struggle with.
Maybe it’s because a calendar is so much more than just dates on a page. A calendar is the chronicle of a family’s life. A calendar records our activities, our appointments, our fun in carefully constructed order. I promised him at the funeral we would go on new adventures. This calendar must have space for those.
That’s a lot of pressure for a calendar. It may take me a few days to find just the right one.