It’s on My Calendar


Cadence and Me, Pensive. February 8, 2014

A Heart of Stone Doesn’t Stretch

Every January I buy a wall calendar–one with an inoffensively pretty photo for each month and a square for each day in the month. It’s a terribly old school practice, I know. I think those tidy rows of boxes, with appointments and dates and red-letter days carefully marked, help me pretend that A) we manage a schedule and B) we are masters of that schedule.

See? Look. There’s Dad’s birthday. Right where it was last year. And the year before that. 

Whatever the attraction be, I cannot duplicate it with an electronic calendar. Even though I could share the e-calendar, or copy events forward to subsequent years, or do some other digitally cool thing with the information.

For a time I saved those calendars as a shorthand diary of the year completed. I tossed all the old calendars in a fit of junk-sifting preparatory to a move a few years ago and I haven’t missed them.

In fact, in this season, the idea that a year’s worth of hasty jottings in simple squares could capture a year’s important events–well, that idea insults my heart.  

Every January I copy birthdays and anniversaries from the old calendar to the new one. But every year, the collection of dates is different. As 2014 unfurled, I  removed two birthdays and one anniversary from the list and I added two birthdays and two anniversaries. I want to see that “score” as a net gain, but life doesn’t work that way, does it?

When my beloved auntie died, she left a hole right in the center of my heart. When a beautiful new grandbaby arrived, she nestled right into the center of my heart.

You might think that that precious little grandgirl filled up the auntie-hole in my heart. It doesn’t work that way, though. For all the new loves I stuff in there, the holes never disappear. They don’t even shrink.

Hearts aren’t pies, you know. You pile the apples, or cherries or banana cream or coconut into that pastry; only so much will fit–the excess falls away. You slice a pie into so many pieces, and as you serve the pieces, the pie disappears. No, hearts don’t work that way. My auntie didn’t disappear:  Her memories haunt the heart-hole she left behind. It’s the finest kind of haunting. Grandbaby Number Nine folds right into the heart of my heart, if you will, and the spaces occupied by her two siblings and six cousins do not diminish one little bit. Ditto for her parents, auntie, and uncles. I guess you could say I have an elastic heart.

Life spins on. My heart stretches to fit new lives, fresh loves. It’s fuller each year of holes, a regular Swiss cheese of a heart–holier. 

rabbit conga

19 And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.
Ezekiel 11:19-21 (NASB)



  1. So true. Nothing can ever fill the hole or erase the scars from what we have lost. You can’t remove something from your heart once it has occupied a space of a loved one. And it shouldn’t, because their loss has eternally made us different. it’s made us better. It’s made us grown. It makes us mourn and actually feel in a different way. It has made us understand people who are now going through the same thing, thus allowing us to be empathetic in a way we never could before.

    I have my calendar on my Outlook which automatically carry over every BD, Wedding anniversay, Death anniversay,. And . . . . for me when I also have when the first robin, meadowlark, and Red-winged black birds arrived.

    Loved this post, Sheila.

  2. Great post, Sheila.

    Nothing can ever fill the holes or remove the scars left by a loss. If the hole was filled then the other person would be deleted. That’s impossible. You can’t forget someone or something that has occupied a place in your heart. Hopefully it makes us better, stronger, and more empathetic to someone else going through the same thing.

    I have a calendar on my outlook which automatically brings the BD, Wedding anniversiies, as well as death anniversaries. People are always touched when someone remembers when their loved one died. They always have to struggle alone on that day. I know about that.

  3. Such a good point about people struggling alone on death anniversaries. I know something about that, too. I left both your comments here because I didn’t want to lose a single word of your insights. xoxo

  4. Sheila, I am an old school calendar keeper, too, and reviewing the dates and occasions from year to year is sometimes bittersweet. I love your ‘swiss cheese heart’.

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