1998 was the year that changed Laura’s life. If you had asked her back then, she would have laughed and said, “Got change for a five? That’s all the change I’ve seen lately.” From a personal, intimate standpoint, which is where most people look for transformative events, this was as true as the day is long. However, in the grand scheme of things, that was the year she learned about death. Not death as abstract, philosophical posturing, not the death of a grandparent or celebrity, but death in a more referential vein.
Had she paid attention to such behavior, Laura could have vouched for having acknowledged, though not mourned, the passing that year of, for instance, Linda McCartney. In Laura’s limited experience, she became the living –or rather, dying- proof that death existed for the rich and famous as well as for the poor and unknown. She was vaguely annoyed by Charlie Parker’s departure, as she had only recently discovered his true genius, and this same devotion made her feel indifferent to the loss of Frank Sinatra. Similar but opposing sentiments were true for Ted Hughes (whom she blamed for Silvia Plath’s via crucis, justifiably or not) and her beloved Octavio Paz.
Frivolous as these brief, unemotional bouts of mourning were, they were held up for review when news of Joe Cooper’s death reached Laura. Barely classifiable as a friend, he was at the least a contemporary, and she had expounded more than one opinion in his presence. They had also shared more than one summer morning at the municipal pool with a cadre of offspring in their offhanded, slightly irresponsible care. So at Joe’s funeral, among the teary-eyed grandmothers and the slightly high colleagues, Laura learned the one lesson that would stand her in good stead when her own intimate and personal day of doom came knocking. She learned that ignorance, blissful as it was, could do nothing to stave off the inevitable. She learned what was needed to answer that door.
YEAR (noun) 3 : a calendar year specified usually by a number