The Weight of April

There are certain days of the year where for some reason (or no reason), a traumatic or dramatic event has historically and repeatedly happened to either me or someone in my family – both terrible and wonderful. Although I’m not sure why it is, for a long while, most of these occurrences have manifested on the eves of two major holidays.

Christmas Eve has seen enough mishaps (mostly – but not exclusively – illnesses, scary diagnoses and hospitalizations) that my children started calling it “The Christmas Eve Curse”. Each year on that date we take a pause and breathe a bit easier when nothing of great difficulty or negative significance occurs for any of us. Some of these events have ended up with stories (and titles) that get repeated in the future and make everybody laugh – “The Year of Uncle P and the Frozen Turkey” (born out of “Mom’s Christmas Morning in the Isolation Ward”) being one of them. New Year’s Eve has also had a number of traumas, dramas and excitement with their own chapter headings. Because of that, these days I tend to duck and lay very, very low during that specific holiday.

But then there is April. Happy, bright April. In the distant past, along with the greening and the budding, the events within that month had mostly been acknowledging the birthdays of some family and a number of friends – a significant group of us in the Aries/Taurus/early Gemini clan dubbed “The Spring Babies”. During this time, I would marvel over the blossoming dogwoods, call whoever’s birthday was up on deck to wish them a happy, gush over the next of the bloomings, plan a garden, make yet another birthday call. That was it. Flowering and birthday salutations. Until the day the weight of April changed into a series of emotional shadows and light – and since that day it has been (oddly) a span of about a week within that month which knocks my head around annually, along with the spring winds and showers.

So here we are again, April – while my blood is quickening to the excitement of the awakening earth, a low-key anxiety begins to thrum beneath the elation. Even though nothing specifically bothersome may be occurring in my personal life at that given moment, suddenly The Biting of the Cuticles and Nails begins. Leading up to this particular week I have chewed my fingers into painful little nicks and cuts, which then annoyingly burn every time I do the dishes or prepare any acidic type foods. Even though long ago I figured out why this happens, each year finds me yet again surprised when it starts. There are a few triggering memories that set this in motion.

Years ago, after a long illness, my mother passed away one April day. We used to speak on the phone just about every morning – our conversations were heart-warming, sometimes frustrating, often ridiculous, yet always filled with love. I sat next to her in disbelief and sorrow as the life left her body, leaving a palpable, surreal and immediate vacuum. On that day, the daffodils in her garden were in full bloom. Now, each year, I plant those bulbs in her honor. When they all appear and shine so golden against a cerulean sky, I hear my artist mother say, “Blue and yellow sing”. It has been many years now, but still, each April I ache with the loss of her. This feeling does not fade and I know it never will. I find it odd that at this very moment I am older than she was when she left us.

daffodils for my mother

In a rather cruel twist, two years later and on the very day before the anniversary of her death, my Then-Fiancé abandoned me, our family, and the life we had built together. That spring had been a particularly gorgeous one, one meant to be shared – exploding with outrageously vibrant color, rampant blooms and sweet winds, the Siberian Irises rising in exclamation points, painfully highlighting my losses, my grief.

A number of years following that trauma – the actual day before the “Anniversary of the Abandonment” – I sat in a hospital waiting area, my youngest child undergoing surgery – ticking off the minutes and hours while anxiously watching for her designated patient ID number on the digital LED board to change status: Pre-Op. In Surgery. Post-Op. In Recovery. Nails left bitten and jagged, relief, prayers and promises to the universe answered when it was determined all was OK. Long buried memories apparently stored in the deepest recesses resurface in April. Old stress and trauma. Shredded nails.

Following these events, April has become more than just flowers. Like clockwork, about a week into the month, there will begin a strange thrumming in the ribcage which builds over the days; I become restless without explanation, until I suddenly remember the explanation. Oh, yeah, here we are again. Let the cuticle biting commence.

Roll forward a number of Aprils, a windy afternoon falling on the day before the anniversary of my youngest’s surgery. On that day, I adopted a quirky, weird little rescue dog. Perhaps it was just coincidence that he entered my life in that very same block of rocky days where all the other upsetting incidents dwelled. Or perhaps it was not a coincidence at all. Rescue – how appropriate. Who really did the rescuing? He has brought years of unconditional joy into my life, injecting happiness into that exact anti-anniversary space where it was so badly needed.


And then, a couple of years on, after the anniversary of the adoption of the dog and a few days after the anniversaries of the surgery, the abandonment, and my mother’s death, I had the privilege of being present for the birth of yet another one of my grandchildren. His arrival was a calm and most beautiful delivery. His entrance into the world on a lovely April day filled the room with a sparkling vibration in direct contrast to the hushed energy vacuum left in the wake of my mother’s departure. Out, and then in. Another healing gift.

welcome joy

There have been a number of other incidents, both difficult and happy, which have happened in other years or even concurrently during those April days, which I will not note here. Most of those are probably folded into or overshadowed by the impact of the greater ones. Over all this time, I still sometimes feel the deeply imbedded aftershocks of what has passed. At the same time, I try to envelope myself in the acknowledgement, appreciation and joy of the gifts that have also manifested. When that particular week in April rolls around, I do admit I unconsciously hold my psychic breath a little. You can shelve your memories and experiences away, but I think there are some things that you never really get over; even when you don’t actually take them out and look at them, they remain there all the same. At least it is that way for me. There are just some events so significant that they change your outlook, or even the trajectory of your life.

During this time, I try to put my energy into the earth. Getting my fingers in the dirt, breathing in the scents, enjoying the flowers, the sun, the rain, the air. Heart-mending stuff. My nails will begin to grow again and this will pass, as April closes out and we move into the light of May.

Yin/Yang. Darkness/Light. Sorrow/Joy. Loss/Gain. Goodbye/Hello. April, April, April…..


This entry was posted in Coping, grief, Holidays, nature, Perspective, Spring, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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