It's official. I'm in The Club. There's no secret Club handshake or T-shirt with the Club logo. I don't pay dues or attend quarterly meetings. The Club is just there like my eyebrows, gravity or lilac blooms in the springtime. The Club just is. Membership wasn't something I applied for or even aspired to, but once you're in, there's no getting out. Not any way I can see. The Club is forever or at least until your actions remove you from The Club and bring others in. I guess that would be one way to describe it. Memorial Day. The holiday used to be another three-day weekend for me. It meant an extra (happy) day off to picnic in the park or read a book in the backyard. Memorial Day didn't arrive with any connotations before I learned the realities of losing someone close to me.
In life BC (Before Club) I lacked insight regarding a Club member's perspective. In fact, just being around a Club member made me uncomfortable. I wasn't sure what to do or say. Now I am full of perspective. As a non-Clubber, you might be afraid to bring up certain subjects because they may trigger "sad thoughts." Not to worry. Anything and everything can produce that result. Thoughts surrounding The Club hover around the fringes of my brain 24-7. They are like little bits of sand creeping in to find a spot wherever they can. Even if my mind is consumed with large and important ideas, those little bits of sand filter their way through. Don't be afraid of saying the wrong thing (or the right thing) or reminding those in The Club they are members. They already know.
Certain days Memorial Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, birthdays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays can be more difficult than others. When alone, in the quiet, we find our thoughts drifting; when in a loud and boisterous crowd, we find our thoughts drifting. Sometimes I feel heaviness behind my eyes and tightness in my throat. I've learned to talk through it most of the time, but I've seen others wince when I do; then I know they know. Blinking fast and swallowing hard works sometimes. So does a deep breath.
Club members like me may not even be aware our reaction to the normal things and people around us is off by a degree or two. The change in us is slight, but can be unsettling for you and for me. I apologize. It's all part of The Club the one we never signed up for but joined nonetheless. Sadness is a funny thing. (How's that for an oxymoron of a sentence?) Loss can be indescribable. It can also result in moments of clarity. For me, membership in The Club has brought a newfound connection with those around me I am more vividly aware of life because I've dealt so closely with death. I enter each day with gratitude for family and friends.
This year, Memorial Day arrives like a heavy sigh brought on by love and loss. These two words in essence define The Club. To love someone means risking loss, which leads directly to a lifetime membership and the pain that accompanies it. To never take the risk means something much worse. I'm in The Club. I guess I'm okay with that.
Jill Pertler is a syndicated columnist and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" at booklocker.com, and you can check out Slices of Life on Facebook. She works with graphic artist, Nikki Willgohs, to provide award-winning writing and design services. Their website: marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com /