I have never been close with my family. Any road trip is awkward, filled with broken down cars and arguments in the restaurant that make everyone else feel uncomfortable. There were times when I wished for a new family like the confused six-year-old that I was, but now I am plainly used to it, tired of finding ways of inching my parents closer together so that I could reach for something I could never have. Jill Bialosky has those same sentiments in her poem, “Daylight Savings”, wishing for something that could never be because she can’t help but feel that life has passed her by and that she missed out on something great.
What Bialosky depicts is a wholesome family. No, not a cookie-cutter version where the mother makes pot roast to greet the father who is coming home from a successful business trip while the beautiful, blonde kids are getting straight A’s in all of their classes and are on track to Yale with no stopping. No, Bialosky encompasses a real family, with “the silent hour in the car when they were angry” and “the hour when they were hurt or betrayed and there was nothing we could do to ease the pain.” However, along with that, Bialosky also has “the hour we buttered their toast and made them meals.” It’s a healthy balance of everything, wrapping up reality into a loving picture, showing hardship while showing the best kind of happy, proving that there is hope for everyone and that every moment will matter no matter what if you take it all in one by one.
As I came to discover, Bialosky never knew what any of these hours meant. Within ten hours after birth, she lost her first-born daughter and within the next twenty-four hours, she lost her son. Thankfully, she was able to give birth to a healthy son on her third try. But this doesn’t change anything. The third child still cannot erase the agony of seeing two of your children lying dead in front of you. Coming back to “the hour when they were hurt or betrayed and there was nothing we could do to ease the pain,” I can’t help but lean towards the idea that Bialosky felt as if she was at fault for what happened. That she was the match aflame from the start, her one mistake suddenly suffocating the lives of her own flesh and blood, crushing every potential memory she was ready to create, abandoning her to think that she was simply never meant to be a mother, strangling the dreams of all those alongside her, lifelong expectations rapidly becoming lifelong nightmares as her life collided with those of her dead children quicker because that it just how it had to happen. Maybe in a way her dead children took away a part of her with them. They took the life she could never have, leaving her stranded to think “Is there anything that I can do now?”
What confuses me is her last few lines of the poem: “the hours when they were without us, the precious hour we did not want to lose each year even if it meant another hour of daylight.” At first I thought that Bialosky was talking about the hours where her kids might have been without her in a form of what she wishes could be, but now I see it as the hours that they could not physically be there in her life. Even if someone is not with you physically, they still mean the same amount, present or not. The title “Daylight Savings” takes account of the hours that were lost too, because they still mean something. They still prove that some part of someone will always be with you.
When Bialosky ends with “Even if it meant another hour of daylight,” I think she is hoping that her children are in touch with her in some way. That while she is passing through more and more hours of daylight, her time spent without her children, that she can still have some connection with them. She should still at least have the possibility of imagining that her children are with her, shouldn’t she?
Maybe Bialosky is finding any way of feeling that she can to be happy, even though her family life is a little broken. I haven’t had the same struggles as her at all, but I sympathize with her constant imagining for an alternate universe where everything is okay. Maybe it’s not completely plausible, but it’s still something to keep us all happy – even for just a little while.