If you're a student, you write your name and the date on your paper everyday; if you're working, it's probable that you have deadlines to meet or e-mails to send that have the day stamped right on them; some kind of people even read the paper every morning, and one of the first things it will tell you - once you get past whatever headline is shouting out at you in its largest print - is what day it actually is.
But for people like me - whose numbers I can't be certain of, although I know there are quite a few - people who hardly ever have occasion to change out of their pajamas, or step foot out of their houses, or see other people in real life at all, things can be pretty different. There can be large stretches of time where I consider myself lucky if I remember the day of the week I happen to be inhabiting, let along the exact number it coincides with on the calendar. I've talked to SAHMs, and patients in hospitals or treatment centers, and - on the opposite end of the spectrum - vacationers who have similar issues ("You mean the 22nd is this week?? How the hell did that happen?")and for the most part - aside from having to double check my Google alarms for doctor's appointments and the like - it's not really all that important.
I mean it's like needing to know what time it is in the middle of the night - I could make the effort to roll over, reach my glasses, put them on my face, and check the clock, but is it really worth the bother, since I can plainly see it is still dark enough out to be sleeping time? No, it's most likely not.
So finding out the date generally enters into the same category.
I know when important things are coming up, don't get me wrong: Birthdays and anniversaries and appointments and all that are filed (semi-obsessively, next closest event first) in my brain, but I tend to send things like presents or cards a week ahead of time, knowing that I'll most likely miss out on the exact date and figuring it's better early than late. Judicious use of Facebook friends' birthday notifications, as well as the aforementioned Google alerts and text alarms for appointments keep me - more often than not - where and when I should be.
When SisterK called last night with the news that my Grandmother had had another incident that required a rush to the hospital, I didn't immediately connect the dots.
She had been having leg pain, intense and kind of sudden, and so they called the ambulance, and when she got there they found out she had a lot of clots in her legs. Like, if you clumped them all together, the things they took out of her would form a softball sized mass, kind of lot. As I'm writing this she is thankfully through with her surgery and in the ICU recovering, with the hopes of getting moved to a regular floor tomorrow at some point, but it's still pretty serious because she was on Coumadin, which is a blood thinner, so this should not have been possible. (Of course they've also been messing with her Coumadin dosage since her TIA in September, which was also caused by a clot, so maybe they just haven't gotten it where it needed to be yet: I don't know. I do know the doctor's keep saying how hard Coumadin is to get right, which makes me wonder why we have 17 different forms of hair growing creams but only one acceptable, but completely ridiculous to administer blood thinner, but that's a rant for a different day.)
She's ok, right now, is the point. Resting and recovering.
But there was definitely a little while there that things were more than somewhat tense, and where I spent a lot of time trying to stay calm and calm down other people as I spread the word that things were bad. And then there was the moment that I almost had a complete breakdown: when I turned on the Daily Show for a few distracting laughs, and instead got punched in the gut with the goddamn date.
"January 19th, 2011" rang out the familiar announcer's voice.
And I nearly threw up.
Because January 19th, 2008 was the date that I lost my Nana.
And which I knew was coming up, but didn't realize I had somehow stumbled most of the way through without knowing the actual date. Three years ago today I was home, sick, sitting on my bed in tears, trying to figure out how a person I loved could have just stopped living. How I wouldn't get to see her again, ever.
And here I was, three short years, 5 miles and probably a million "if only's" later, worrying about my other grandmother, and whether or not I'd get to see her again. (We actually had plans for lunch tomorrow). Same date, same sense of dread, same knowledge that sometimes things just don't get better. But - thankfully, blessedly - different outcomes.
She's not out of the woods yet, and (even if she were) she's not in the best of health regardless, so there's still a lot of worrying to do, still a lot of fear to face. But at least THIS day is over, at least THIS date has past.
I miss you, Nana. Today, and every day.