Christmas day 1994. I was a young wife and mother living a comfortable domestic life with my husband, Richard, and our three children, ages six, eight, and twelve. One of the gifts I received was a wall calendar. I didn’t remove the plastic packaging and examine the calendar until a few days later. When I did, I found something very strange. The page for April was upside down. Some kind of printing error, I supposed. Oddly, all the other pages were right side up.
I hung the calendar up in January but had to flip it around when April arrived so I wouldn’t have to stand on my head to write on it.
The month started out like most Aprils, with winter and spring duking it out like a pair of hell-bent prizefighters. By the middle of the month, it looked like spring was going to win. We started making plans for warm-weather outings. Then, on April 22, the unthinkable happened. Richard died suddenly after suffering a first-time heart attack. In the blink of an eye I became a widow with three young children.
At some point during those impossible, grief-blurred days, I glanced at my wonky calendar, and suddenly I got it. I saw the message, the metaphor. My family’s lives had been turned upside down, just like that calendar page.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I ended up with that particular calendar, one with a glaring error marking the year and month of my husband’s death. Of all the calendars I’ve ever owned, that’s the only one that had an upside-down page.
But why was I given the calendar? Was it a warning, one I was supposed to act on? I don’t think so. The message was too obscure. Who would interpret an upside-down calendar page as “Your husband is about to die”? Rather, I think it was an acknowledgement that, yes, my family’s world would be rocked in the worst possible way, but we would be okay. Life would go on. All the other pages were right-side-up, and eventually we would be, too.
And we were.
Some people are creeped out by my mystical calendar, but I find it comforting. It reminds me that there’s more to existence than the world we see around us. Another realm exists, one invisible to our mortal eyes but as real as grass and dirt and purple mountain majesties. In it dwells a loving Presence who is always with us, watching us, aware of what we’re going through and what lies ahead. And grieving with us when the worst happens.
What do you think about my calendar? Creepy or comforting?