DISCLAIMER: I claim no rights to the lyrics/artist nor do I claim rights to the CSI conglomeration. This is purely done for my own sanity after working with children all day.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Corbeau's Alcove


The date represents the day of birth. The ones that follow, a reminder of that very day. Like many things, we mark it with a date and month. If the mother was astute after a grueling labour - or a nurse was a strict record keeper - you could celebrate on the turning over of the clock, the exact moment you were plucked out of the womb.

Children's birthday's are characteristically joyous. The first couple it's more an event for the parents and extended family; a babies knowledge of this tradition not yet formed into a cognitive understanding of the importance of this day. But once they begin to articulate better, once they see those blasted commercials and learn to say Pokemon or Nemo before many other useful words, the party becomes a little bit more about them.

And the wallets of the guests.

Five sees a more group-like gathering of children who are similar in age. Friends from a playgroup for example. Sharing has - you hope - been established several years before. The headache you have will subside, but at least you know you can embarrass your children with photos, recordings and general storytelling as they grow older.

Milestones are passed at an alarming rate. You begin to ask, "where have the years gone?" as your once newborn grows into a teenager. Did they skip six to twelve years because it's all a blur. One day you were finger-painting with them, the next, they want your cash and their anonymity. Heavens forbid you want to hug and kiss them farewell or, even worse, tell them you love them.

There's no time for that anymore.

Now the years are marked off in fights, boyfriends and driving lessons. You know they'll be their own person, but you wish you could hold onto them every now and then and allow the nostalgia to wash over you.

But there's no time. The cell phone and computer are calling. People are invited to their party but then struck off the list. Friendships are so fleeting and determined upon social status. Secrets are spilled in the pursuit of a higher social standing.

"Hey mom?"

You look up, the scrapbook of memories laying in the albums on your lap.

"Yes Linds?"

"I'm staying a few nights here next week, is that cool?"

"What for?" You ask, even though you know she'll evade the question.

"Are you going to be alone tonight?" She asks.

You know why she's staying but you say nothing.

Dates of remembrance are funny things. Birthdays, anniversaries, employment duration, cases, bill payments, doctors appointments.

Deaths ...

"She didn't feel any pain," the voice next to you says softly. It the same thing they always say, as if by repeating it year in and year out, you'll begin to believe it.

"She knew it was approaching." You say, astonished at her willingness to travel those final hours without you.

You wanted to be mad but you couldn't, not on this day. Touching a hand to your face, you feel the weight of these years. Too many days spent out of the sun. Too many days spent not eating well. Days. Months. Years. There was no adequate gauge for the time you'd spent alone. It was just there, it felt like it had always been there.

"I felt pain," you whisper, the tears falling onto the tombstone, trickling down the face and into the chiseled name that rest near the top.

"It wasn't your fault."

"I should have known something was wrong" You hiss.

A gloved hand takes hold of your cold, uncovered one. You feel no warmth from it.

"She was stubborn."

You smile. Indeed she was.

"Let her go. Let her be at rest," your companion says.

"This will always be her final day, no matter what year. This day belongs to her." You state, as if by your vocalisation, someone will decree it so.

"I'll wait in the car." Like the years that have now fallen away, your companion knows the platitudes mean nothing, but are still said to fill up the silence.

Kneeling, tracing a trembling hand over the words that bring no comfort, you smile slightly.

"Full circle baby. A beginning and an end."

That bleak day, she sat on the couch, complaining of tiredness. Nothing new, but you could sense something was off. Thinking it was more a mental tiredness, you promised yourself you'd ask her after she rested.

You didn't even kiss her before going up to the bedroom.

The television was on when you came back downstairs, what was playing you can't recall. There was something wrong, you could feel it, but could never have imagined the magnitude of the situation.

When she didn't stir, you felt your stomach drop. Even after seeing her laying in stillness, her head resting on her shoulder, you couldn't understand it.

You didn't want to understand it.

You know this day will never have to be circled in the calendar for it is the day you lost your partner and by extension, part of yourself. She had suffered a heart attack at the age of fifty-five. A woman so fit and healthy that you envied her ability to maintain it. Her looks never faded, nor did your love for her.

You shouted, you slapped her face. You tried CPR.

Nothing worked.

You dialed the numbers of everyone you knew. Two ambulances showed up, several squad cars also arrived. There were so many people in your home, you felt like you were suffocating. You yelled that Catherine needed air, that they needed to move away.

It was too late. You ... you were too late.

The paramedics knew as soon as they saw her. But they continued to work on her, they bagged her and took her to the ambulance. You were quite happy to continue along with the charade.

But reality was fast approaching when you heard Brass call Nancy. You knew, you knew.

They turned off the sirens once they cleared Catherine's street. The paramedic mumbled a sorry and took his seat in the front of the bus. You took Catherine's hand as she lay under the crisp white sheet. Was it cold already or was that later in the morgue? You can't remember, but you do know that you've not felt warmth in your hands since that day.

Nor have you in your heart.

Lindsay stayed with Nancy or Lily a lot right after it. She took to calling you mom which made you feel very uncomfortable and extremely guilty, but her therapist said it might be good for her to have that authority figure. The scrapbook of memories you look at every morning on this day; some of those memories weren't your own, but the stories and the photographs make you feel like they could have been. Catherine loved to make you feel like Lindsay was your daughter too. The stories made you feel like this house was your home.

Even so, you thought it was ridiculous for her to continue to call you mom, considering she was no longer a child. Hell, she was no longer a teenager. She was at college doing her second degree, this one in Engineering Science. She was an incredibly bright women, and had become such a beautiful person. Catherine need not worry, her legacy would let her down.

Another date to mark down: Graduation Day.

Placing a kiss upon your fingers, you trace her name, hoping this connection will bring alive the woman now underneath it. The tears always fall heaviest when you're about to leave. It feels like that day in the morgue, every single time.

You couldn't stand to see her as you had many cases before that. You couldn't stand to know that her body would no longer wrap around you. Her smile that often spoke more about how she was feeling would never again shine your way. You were lost without her guidance and support. Oh how you longed to pull her into your arms.

What you didn't realise until the day of the funeral, while you slept with a hysterical Lindsay the evening of Catherine's death, your colleagues - your family - took shifts to sit with her. Never once was she alone on that cold metal slab. You hated yourself for leaving her, but you knew Catherine would want you with her daughter. Your daughter.

You knew she'd have appreciated the team doing that, even if she would have told them to get some sleep and something good to eat. Even after she left the daily rigors of field work for a more comfortable, stable desk job, they still all came to Catherine for advice. We had given up postings elsewhere to stay together, we were family.

"Are you ready Sara?" Nancy returned, looking at her watch.

You turn, wanting to tell Nancy that you'll never be ready. You want to lay on the beautifully manicured lawn and be near to your beloved, resting for eternity in her arms. Her last resting place. But you don't, you promised Greg that today you'd meet his fiancé.

Catherine once told you that dates were irrelevant - although it was right after she'd forgotten your six month anniversary - and it was the way you lived life before and after that occasion that mattered. After all, nothing ever goes to plan.

God you wanted to hate her for leaving. You wanted to break stained glass windows and unleash your fury upon the heavens. But, that was energy you no longer had. You lived each day with very little delight, waiting for your very own end. If you could, you would mark that day down in the calendar and await the final curtain, but you haven't bought a calendar since that day.

And the old one was still tacked to the wall in the bathroom. You had to keep it, it has her handwriting on it. It was your anchor in the mornings when you just felt like swallowing pills and leaving it all behind. Looking at it, rewinding the past with the flick of a page, you could take a little of her strength and make it until it was time to sleep.

You knew she'd come and get you when it was time.

The End

Wendy Matthews, 'The Day You Went Away.'

Hey there's not a cloud in the sky
It's as blue as your goodbye
And I thought that it would rain
On a day like today.
Hey there's not a cloud in sight
It's as blue as the your goodbye
And I thought it would rain
The day you went away.

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