Unexpected Triggers

The Modern Love podcast opened up the new season with an essay called “One Man’s Trash.” The author of the essay describes an event that acted as an unexpected trigger of his dead partner’s memory. The result was a long, cathartic sob, followed by release.

Rather than unexpected triggers, June typically offers me nothing other than expected triggers. June is a memory landmine month. This year marks 19 years since my father and grandfather died. My father’s birthday is in early June. Then father’s day. Then my grandfather’s deathday. The following day is my father’s. Some years, Father’s Day is on the same day as one of the deathdays. I’m not sure if having everything compounded on the same day makes it harder or easier.

Hearing this podcast in the early days of June made me think of some triggers. While I don’t often experience those raw, heart wrenching, painful yearnings anymore, something new is developing. Sometimes the unexpected triggers result in something pleasurable, almost as though my father is sending me a small hug, a pat on the back, a wink, or even one of his infectious guffaws. This last one is mostly reserved when I hear something that would have resonated with his specific “nerd humor.”

Recently I experienced two of these familiar, loving triggers. On a whim I decided to try out a doughnut shop I recently discovered. I’m not much of a doughnut person. When I do get a doughnut, I usually go for a plain chocolate one. Or maybe a chocolate one with something sprinkled on it. However, this time, I instantly ordered the equivalent of a Boston Cream doughnut. I didn’t even see the other offerings, but knew I had to get this one. Of course in Canada the doughnut has another name without “Boston” in it, but it was basically the same thing. More importantly, my father’s favorite flavor, something I learned after he died.

Earlier in the month, while visiting a friend, I noticed a dime on the ground. Without hesitating I bent over to pick it up. At the same instant I remember thinking, “still healthy enough to pick up loose change.” Then I chuckled. My father always picked up loose change, something I’m sure he would still be doing even though nobody has used cash in the last two years. It made that dime worth more than ten cents.

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