Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

Aric Day

Date: 
Monday, May 26, 2014
Posted By: 
Jeannine Love

Aric’s birthday has always been an event, but as Aric grew older, particularly as his liver disease progressed, birthdays took on a new meaning. Eventually, just the act of having another birthday was a true celebration. On his thirty-fourth birthday Aric adamantly told me that his birthday was the most important holiday of the year for him—it meant he had in fact survived another year. As it turned out, that was to be his last birthday.

But celebrations of Aric’s life were not confined to his birthday. In the last few years we had together we started celebrating any day that he felt well enough to get out of the house and enjoy himself. “Aric days” we called them. Days when Ar was in charge and we did whatever he wanted to do. Usually this entailed nothing more than going for a drive, maybe doing a little shopping and getting a bite to eat from a favorite restaurant—usually takeout as even on his best days sitting in a restaurant for a full meal was difficult. Still, his birthday—May 23—remained the ultimate Aric day and the celebration often stretched over a week or so, doing little things each day, as he was able.

This year marked my second Aric Day, with no Aric to celebrate it with. Last year I spent the day with his family, all of us taking comfort in one another’s presence and celebrating with some of Aric’s favorite birthday treats. This year, however, I decided to spend Aric Day a little differently. In true Aric fashion I stretched the celebration over an extended period—on a road trip he could have only dreamed about … the kind of dreams reserved for the “post transplant” life that would never come.

I’ve driven from Chicago to Cleveland to West Virginia, going on to Charlotte NC, down to Orlando FL, then on to Miami and then back up to Jekyll Island and Savanna, GA, and on to Charleston, SC. From there I went to the Great Smokey Mountains in western North Carolina and I spent Aric’s birthday hiking, horseback riding and camping in the Great Smokey Mountains just outside of Cherokee.

And still the trip continues. As I am writing this I am making a pilgrimage up the Blue Ridge Parkway. Tonight I’m camping at Linville Falls in a beautiful campsite by a stream. For the next few days I’ll continue driving up the parkway, from one end to the other, before finally returning to Cleveland to walk in the American Liver Foundation’s Liver Life Walk in Aric’s memory.

At first I was worried about not spending the day with family, but then I realized that this kind of adventure is the best way I could possible celebrate my love for Aric and his zest for life. Instead of spending the day doing what I would have done with Aric while he was sick, I spent the day in nature and the night underneath the stars—doing something that I had never done with Aric, something he could only dream of doing.

Long before Aric died he made me promise that someday I would travel to faraway places like Easter Island. He wanted to see the world and couldn’t, so instead he had hoped that he might live vicariously through my travels. He felt guilty that his illness kept us so close to home, preventing travel, socializing with friends, even eating at a restaurant. I know it would be incredibly important to him that I experience new things, see new places, live my life as fully as he would have liked to have done.

So beginning this year with this epic road trip, I’ve decided to start a new Aric Day tradition, to try something new or go somewhere I’ve never been before. Each Aric Day I will spread my wings a little wider, and in doing so I will celebrate Aric’s joy for life, his insatiable curiosity, his love for experiencing new things.

 

Comments

Thanks for sharing Jeannine! Like you, I find it easiest to celebrate life the way those we have lost only wished the could. Enjoy the rest of your travels!

Thank you for posting this. I feel like I know you both a bit better. I am a Heidelberg friend of Linda's and have followed your journeys over the past few years. I love the idea of Aric days! We should all take the wisdom of this idea to heart. I live in Ninole, Hawaii, working as a volunteer ranger at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. If a future Aric day ever brings you this way I would be happy to show you around. All the best. Paul Sanderson

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