Wikipedia tells me that January 5th is the 5th day of the Gregorian calendar, and that there are 360 days left in the calendar year.
Other cool things Wikipedia knows about January 5th include;
In 1757 Louis XV survived an assassination attempt
In 1759 George Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis
In 1909 Colombia recognized the independence of Panama
In 1914 Ford Motor Company announced the 8 hour workday and a minimum wage of 5
bucks an hour. (Don’t spend all that in one place)
In 1940 The FCC got its first taste of FM radio (amen, brother)
In 1970 All My Children premiered
In 1993 Washington State executed a man by HANGING (yes, really in 1993)
In 1997 Russian forces pulled out of Chechnya
Also on January 5th…
Walter Mondale, Robert Duvall, Charlie Rose, Diane Keaton, Grant Young, and Marilyn Manson were born .
All in all, a not totally uncool day.
For me, it’s the day I got the phone call from the Fairfax County Police to tell me my brother had been found dead in his home.
The jack-ass I talked to on the phone that day was almost as sensitive as steel wool. After he identified himself as being a member of the “death squad” (storm-trooper anyone?) and him telling me it looked like my brother had been dead for several days and that his dog had to “forcibly removed from the home” I was ready to kick in his teeth. Just as soon as I found something to fill the gaping hole in my chest.
I remember sometime early on promising myself I wouldn’t memorialize this day. I wouldn’t remember it every year. I didn’t want to do that. Yet, every year since, starting right around thanksgiving - January 5th almost glows on my calendar. I can feel it coming, and I quietly start looking for a way to pass that day.
In 2005, Jan 5th fell on the day of my Team in Training Bon Voyage Party. We were leaving for Bermuda to run the marathon later that week, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society threw us a party. I took the whole day off from work, got a sports massage and a haircut and joined my teammates for dinner and drinks. I’d only started running the previous July – and quit smoking just 1 day before I started running. I trained all winter, running my longest distance of 18 miles on December 26th in 18 degree weather.
In 2006, my friends took me out to a place in Georgetown, called the Birdcage. There was no mention of the ‘anniversary’ not a word. They knew, of course, being the same friends that scraped me off the living room floor two years earlier, propped me up, took me to bail the from the Fairfax County Animal Shelter, and somehow kept me from driving into the nearest bridge abutment/off a bridge/into oncoming traffic. These friends cheered for me as I ran around Bermuda the year before. They were there at the finish line with tears in their eyes and water and Corona in their hands, they helped me soak my swollen blistered feet, and they bought me a post race massage. There was much to say, and they said it just by being there.
In 2007, I met some other girlfriends at Snowshoe Ski resort, it wasn’t planned, and these girlfriends had no idea about the date. I remember noting it, and thinking that Mark would have loved to hear about that weekend, the things we did, the laughs we shared, the fried green tomatoes. I remember crying all the way down the mountain at the end of the weekend wishing desperately I could call him and share the weekends stories – I remember the dull thud of realization, knowing utterly and completely that this is what I would miss the most - the inability to share the rest of my life with him.
In 2008, I packed myself and my young dog off to a dog seminar with Ivan Balabanov. One of my very favorite things about the dog sport I do is that working with the man that has won every level competition he’s entered (from local to World Championships) for the last several years is as simple as making a phone call, paying a little money and spending 9 hours in a car. So off I went. This year, I was completely aware of the date. Those people who tell you it gets easier – they are lying. I still feel the cold spot in my heart the way you feel a draft from a not fully closed window in February.
I ran to Plant City, Florida to get warm. It almost worked. I spent two days 12 hours each totally immersed in dogs and training and other people as into (read insane) their dogs as I am mine. I worked hard, I trained hard, and I had fun. Ivan made a point to tell me what a nice puppy I had and what great potential we had as a team. It was overwhelming but felt so good.
I left Plant City at 4:20 in the morning, stopping to get gas and Starbucks and then cried every bit of the 110 miles down I-4 to 95.
I am not so dense as to miss the fact that I am spending this day each year wrapped in the things and people I love. Whatever ability I have to “man up” is obliterated on this day, I am simply, in need.
I am not particularly proud of this, but I refuse to be ashamed.