I have never been able to pronounce the word, “February.” Seriously. At the very least not on the first try. When it comes up in conversation, I usually say “the second month of the year” or “the month before March.” It’s a difficult month to like anyway, because of it’s dark, Wintery, Christmas-less coldness. I have enjoyed Valentine’s Day some years – my family has shared lovely traditions – but one sweet holiday doesn’t redeem an entire month.
In the February of my 13th year, my hatred of the word and the month became more intense when I had personal evidence to claim it as the worst of the year. In that month, my dog, Sadie, was hit by a car. Sadie was a dark-haired golden retriever who came into my life when I was only 5 years old. She was our family dog, but I thought of her as my own. We curled up to read books or cuddle stuffed toys together, went through obedience and agility dog training together and walked together. When I was angry at my parents or my siblings, I told Sadie about it because she was the best listener. On the night that she died, I experienced death of someone close to me for the first time. Days after that loss, I received a peculiar note in my instrument locker at school. I was homeschooled at the time, but participated in band and the middle school play. The handwriting on the note simply said, “You don’t belong here. Stay home.” Then, later that same day, not long after I returned home from school, my mom told me that my grandmother’s sister had died. On the list of people who mattered the most to me, my grandma held a top spot. Seeing her in such pain made my heart ache. From then on, February became my absolute, hands-down least favorite month. There were, of course, some good things that happened, but none of them came close to erasing my disdain and instead devastating events continued to crowd the month.
In February 2016, an interesting thing happened. With the death of my husband in the middle of the month, I was tempted to drudge on with further increased hatred of February and write it fully out of my vocabulary. On facebook, e-mail, snail mail and in person, people were showering me and my family with sympathy and support. The encouragements, commiserations and good vibes came like a waterfall into my world, and I was so thankful for them in the midst of my hardest days. Yet, grateful as I was, most of those notes faded quickly into the recesses of my mind after I sent a heart or a thank you. I expected them. What I didn’t expect was to find such light by holding and seeing pictures of brand new babies! Several of my friends were pregnant at the beginning of February and many of them gave birth in that month. I had never really been a “baby person” before. To be honest, I had pretty close to zero interest in babies before the birth of my first son. But the tiny features of these new little February babies, with their sweet soft heads, grasping figures and intense stares were different.
It’s difficult to explain, but let me try. These little people have not experienced the burdens of our world, and yet, they’ve also just come through one of the most terrifying things a person could experience – being taken from the only home you know and placed into something entirely foreign. While the new place is scary, it’s also full of positive potential – surrounding babies is hope and expectancy, relief and rejoicing!
February babies, with their fresh new life, brought wonderful light that year into a month I’d always seen as dark. One friend posted a video of her baby girl that drew me to instant tears because of her life in the midst of a season that had felt like death. When I held another one of my friends’ babies, warmth flooded my body and my tears weren’t as sad as they were profoundly touched. That particular baby was actually being born at the very same time that I was burying my husband (more about that here). I felt the peace of Heaven come freshly into my arms when I held that child.
It’s been two years, and still, I feel a connection with the babies that are and were born in the month of February. In a month which holds for me anniversaries of deaths for a grandfather, a dog, a great aunt and a husband; I’m thankful for the vibrant joy of new life and the peace from God that he sends with the blessing of babies.
I still can’t pronounce the word, “February” (don’t make me read this out-loud), but it is no longer a bitter month for me because of all of the glorious sweet.
Featured Image: unsplash-logoAlex Pasarelu