Saturday, August 2, 2014

Anniversary approaching

 The tenth anniversary of the day my seven-year-old son Simon died is near: August 6th, 2004. I register its approach in several ways. It comes heavily, and I feel the weight in the heat and stillness of summer air. Even though the climate is more humid and less hot in southern Germany compared with the Salt Lake Valley, the "anniversary effect" of the season still happens. The angle of summer light, the daylight lasting into the evening, the crinkly tug of sun on skin. The late July/early August season takes me back to the last weeks of Simon's life. I don't seek this effect. I barely notice it sneaking up. Then a late afternoon rain shower throws a rainbow in the sky. Or summer sweat dries on my neck like rubber cement and my mind is sent back to the pathways I took around the Utah house: the kitchen, outside in the yard (to the pumpkin), from bedside to bathroom and quickly back. Simon died at home, in a process as fully integrated with our daily lives as it was extraordinary. The memories feel like that, too.

I've been doing exploratory writing about the summer of 2004, looking at the two months of time that passed when we knew Simon was dying. That writing has also stirred up memories and sent me into the archives of Simon's life. In anticipation of the anniversary, I want to present a review. Some of the readers of this blog followed Simon's Place as events unfolded. Even if you've read some of these postings before, I think you will be amazed, as I am, at the extensiveness and beauty of the record.

The summer of 2004

Looking back, I've always identified early-mid June as the time we knew for sure that Simon's disease would run its course and he would die. Yet there seems to be no point in June at which we wrote "Simon is dying." Early in July, there's a footnote that explains his transition into hospice care to help him "die as peacefully as possible." I don't believe we were trying to protect the information so much as we were in a process. Even after the June conversation with Simon's doctor in which he predicted "weeks, a month, maybe two," I think we moved forward day by day. Simon was living, and we were parenting and caring for him as we always had. I don't for a minute believe we were in denial of his approaching death. But we couldn't know what it would be it until it happened.

Since the Simon's Place entries are reverse chronological, you may want to scroll to the bottom and work your way up on each page. I've written (RC) for those links. If internal links on Simon's Place send you somewhere, navigate by date. (Some pages have since become archives.)

What's Happening June 2004 - (RC) the month we learned Simon's cancer was terminal

Photo Gallery June 2004 - Simon looked and felt pretty great in early June but grew sicker

Celebration of Life Party on July 1, 2004 - Simon's chance to invite all his friends (posted one year later)

Celebration of Life Photos - the short version, note Simon's striped chair (I think of him every time I sit in it)

Celebration of Life Photo Gallery - lots of people, lots of photos (web photo galleries have come a long way since then!)

What's Happening July 2004 - (RC) using good moments despite advancing disease

What's Happening August 2004 - (RC) Simon died on August 6th

Grann's Prayer over Simon's Body, August 6, 2004 - a moving and brave offering of thanks

Simon Says June-August 2004 - (RC) especially here, scroll to the bottom and read chronologically

Simon's Memorial Service - the invitation says a lot about what was important to us; remember Mapquest?! Note the links Mary's Remarks at Simon's Memorial Service and Lullaby: Der Mond ist aufgegangen.

Simon the Dragon by Erik Troberg - Erik's tribute, read during the service, is one of many moving tributes linked at the bottom of the Tributes page.

Message Board at Simon's Place - (RC) July and August 2004 carry the sadness of many people. (You can still send a comment there via the link at the top of the archive page. The current page is here.)

Greetings for Simon from All Over the Place!  - if you sent one, you may remember


For the anniversaries I'm posting something for each year. A few things I've never written about elsewhere, so I'm adding a few photos as well.

First anniversary 2005

Two of a Kind concert at the Hogle Zoo - sponsored by the Simon Craig Vodosek Memorial Fund

Second anniversary 2006

What's Happening 2006 - (RC) a lot of this writing is anniversary-ish

Simon's Way at Brighton Ski Resort - a commemoration in April 2006 (amazingly, the media links are still live)

Third anniversary 2007

What's Happening later years - (RC) I can't recall yet where we spent this anniversary. The bottom-most entry, 2007, is the original Simon's Pumpkin post.

Fourth anniversary 2008

Simon's grave monument (slide show 4) - erected on August 1, 2008 exactly. It took us four years.

Fifth anniversary 2009

The Simon Craig Vodosek Memorial Fund sponsored this cute guy on the new carousel at the zoo.
Conservation Carousel at the Hogle Zoo
in Salt Lake City: River Otter
Photos from August 3, 2009 remind me we were with the Craig clan in Ohio that summer, and we toured the Mansfield, Ohio factory where the carousel had been made.

Beginnings of a horse.
Another otter...

Sixth anniversary 2010

We placed a gravestone to mark the burial spot of the urn next to the monument at Mt. Olivet. Just in time before moving to Germany that summer. Miriam and I visited the grave (and Carl's mom's) with Carl and Natalia on August 6th.

Natalia, Carl, & Miriam

There was a rainbow.

Seventh anniversary 2011

After another Craig clan gathering in the Outer Banks, North Carolina, we visited in Utah and took a wildflower hike to Catherine Pass with Utah friends.

Eighth anniversary 2012

Posted on Facebook, August 5, 2012:
We joined the people of the Arlington Street Church (UU) for worship this morning and took part in their Joys and Sorrows (great format, by the way, with a half-sheet to fill out before the end of the first hymn and then it's read aloud by a minister who invites you to stand as he reads, over Spirit of Life softly on the piano). We shared: 
We remember our son and brother, Simon, who left us eight years ago tomorrow. We love you and we miss you! 
And we were lifted up by the caring of strangers. After church, we took a ride on a swan boat.
Ninth anniversary 2013
Tenth anniversary 2014

Stay tuned.

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