What would make you remember, if you didn’t know the date, if you had been so crazy during all of it that the calendar became an alien language, like small talk and plans for the future, would be the slant of sunlight. When winter approaches the earth tilts, and one morning the sun caresses everything so mournfully that no matter how you distract yourself there is the whisper: Yes, something has changed.
In this new light the shadows fall differently, and in it you remember that you have seen these shadows before. You have seen this fallen light and these long shadows, and with them you are at odds with the world now too, all of you tilted and thinking perhaps you will shear clean off the surface of things and go hurtling into wherever lost light disappears.
So even if October did not evoke the dead, even if nineteen was not the most asymmetric of numbers, even if you cleansed your mind of dates and deliberate remembrance, your body would betray you. Your mind is a clever little beast that can perform all manner of tricks, but your body is too dull to forget the sound of brittling leaves, the smell of settling dust, the feel of warmth as it slips from living things.
You can work or you can drink or you can get yourself a lover, and maybe you try all those things before you simply give in to the tilting of the earth. You give in once you have the courage, after you’ve tried all manner of things to twist yourself the other direction, to pretend that the light doesn’t fall differently sometimes. You lean with the wounded sun and become for a time like one of those stretched-thin shadows, and you find that you don’t go toppling off the earth after all.
All this goes through your mind when you wake and recall, as you sometimes do when the sun enters your room just so, that there is a voice missing from the sounds of morning. So you incline your head to hear the silence better, and when one of your living children asks why you are weeping, you wipe your eyes and tell him a story about a girl you used to know.