This day comes around every year. Without fail, in the week leading up to the fifth, I am constantly re-remembering the events of 2006. Each year is different. For the first few years, I tried to come to terms with what had happened. Once the the events have been internalized, the anniversaries were different. It is a time to remember. It is a time to reflect. It is a time to think about by life. It is a time to think about Jaccob’s would-be life. It is a time to think about what could have been.
Last year, I spent the morning of the fifth by myself—writing and exploring a city I didn’t know much about. In the evening, I hung out with my friends. A year ago, it worked for me. I was floating by. I substitute taught and paid little rent to live with my friends because I wasn’t sure what else to do. It was a good day. I like being about to give a day of thought to him—and the anniversary is the time to do it.
The anniversary is different this year. My early 20’s “floating years” are now behind me. The dreams of those years took me some place new: Africa. It’s strange to think of the road I could have gone down: raising a six year old kid and dealing with a life I cannot even imagine. Jaccob would have been the age of some of the children I work with in Morocco. I can’t wrap my head around that.
Now, almost six months into my Peace Corps experience, today feels quite different. I am at a different point in my life. More importantly, I am closer to starting my own family. In the months prior to coming to Morocco, I realized my mindset about dating had changed. Any relationship I have now will likely be serious. My mind had shifted towards the idea of a family. I still have 20 months left in my service…but I’m starting to get a clearer image of the life I want when I get back.
I’ll be 26 when I get back to America. I don’t know how long it will take me before I start a family of my own…but I hope it won’t be too long. So, as I get closer to having my own family and kids, it puts into perspective everything that happened when I was 17. I wasn’t ready to raise a child.
The gap between what my life would have been and what it is now grows wider ever year. I’m starting to realize that I can’t look at that in terms of good or bad. It’s just different. I have intense difficulties in this life. I would have had intense difficulties in that life. I have great joys today. I would have had great joys and a beautiful young boy in that life. My two lives are very different but contain the same components. I am who I am.
But the most important part of today—for me—is thinking about his life. I can’t know anything about him…but I can imagine. I can imagine what he would be like as an infant. I can imagine the first day of school. I can imagine wanting to help him with his math homework, but he’s too good at it. I can see it all. It hurts in a very distant and distinct way now. But it feels more distant every year. I wonder if that feeling will change when I start my own family. I’ll cross that road when I get to it.
I just wish I could have met him.