When you’re writing a story, time is fluid. You can take three pages to describe a moment, or cover an entire decade with one paragraph.
I’m no fan of dream sequences, but last night I dreamed this: my mother, Aunt Mary, and two of their brothers were gathered around the big oak trestle table on my patio. I wanted to take their photo but they were sitting too far apart, so I waved my hands, asking them to scootch in closer together. They stayed put and continued their conversation. Aunt Mary lit a cigarette. Aunt Mary doesn’t smoke. I went back inside, slid the patio door shut to keep the smoke out, and stood watching them from the kitchen window. They seemed so far away.
Next week, my mother would have turned 67. She’s been gone ten years, but July 11 remains marked on my calendar. I don’t need the reminder, and yet it feels wrong, disrespectful, to remove the words Mom’s birthday from that tiny square — her square, like tangible real estate — in July.
What do you do with a decade?