You’ve all been there: The days leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas can make us ignore the browning, dying flora; we transition from festive ennui to confident exposition of intention in the new year; then follows the monotony of January, the desperate hope for spring in February. By March, most are aching for birds and sun and an end to the hypoglycemic conditions of wind, rain, snow, and the occasional 70 degree day.
Not me. I love winter. I love the beauty of snow and ice, the quiet, the cold that makes my lupus bones hurt worse but keeps the swelling of summer away. I hate sweating, I hate heat, I hate summer. HATE. But I like to plant flowers and I like to see my children smile.
And winter this year hasn’t been kind. There have been moments, of course, to relieve the pain of this dark poetry season, like my wee Rosebud’s wedding in January. Knowing her life mate is a fantastic conglomerate of joy, love, and hilarity is a comfort for what lies ahead. My oldest son, Javin, hit the three month mark of being seizure-free a few days ago, which on its own has redirected our entire life structure. In a few months neurology will begin weaning meds and he may be able to drive by the end of the year. These are all joys.
But, in all this newness, there remains sadness, some mixed with relief. My mother was diagnosed for the second time with breast cancer, this time worse than the first, but was thankfully treated early and our hopes for her full recovery are good. My mother-in-law, who I have called The Mother for the last twenty years, our Gangy, was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) a little over two years ago. She is in her final days now and the wreckage it’s leaving on our family is tremendous. Navigating the grief of six children and her son, my husband, has been an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Watching the extended family grieve this beautiful woman who gave and gave quite literally until her body gave out has been a comfort to see how deeply she is loved, but turns the soul a little blacker because of the unfairness of a terrible disease.
The dying or death of people we believe are the best God has made is a double-edged sword; we love that they get to go see him sooner, but we grieve their absence from a world that needs them so badly to stay. I hope the challenge to live the best life in honor of who we love most doesn’t fade with time. I hope that I won’t feel angry at God, because he surely knows I have been. What she feared most came over her, but who she loves most will take it all away soon. This is my joy.
To my The Mother, I love you more than I could ever express in this lifetime. I know I’m not your natural-born, but you’ve always treated me like I was.
And to my mum to whom I am natural-born, I can never know how deeply your sacrifice for me was. I see glimpses because I am a mother six times over, but your dark places are your own and you kept them so we could live. And love.
This spring I will be without one of my mothers here on Earth, but every time I see the red she loved and I hated, or think about all the terrible ways I made her laugh, or when my wee Juno looks at me with her cheekbones, or the son she raised for me comes home and there’s love in veridian and seafoam eyes, I will know her. And one day soon I will be able to call her and beg for brunch and she will call me a brat, and there will be no more winter.