February is one of my favorite months out of the year. At the beginning of the month we celebrate my son’s birth, at the end of the month we celebrate my daughters’, mid-month we celebrate my favorite made up holiday, which justifies eating lots of dark chocolate and heart-shaped cookies.
But in the midst of all the birthday cakes, party decor and Valentine’s cards my heart stings with pain. I wake up with a heaviness, a burden I can’t seem to make lighter. My body aches and I feel a deep sorrow that words cannot describe.
I’m somewhat used to this pain, the feel it every summer at the beginning of July, before I even realize the date my body remembers… the day my Dad and Brother died. The tragedy.
I can be a million miles away, enjoying a vacation, planning a wedding, celebrating one of my many family member’s July birthdays, and yet in the middle of my happy, summer-fun-loving-beach-going my heart hurts.
It happened very fast, from diagnosis to date of passing. October to February, and then he was gone.
My uncle—this man who had taught me to use chopsticks, drive a car, surf choppy waves—he was suddenly gone. Skin cancer ravaged him from my handsome blue-eyed Paul Newman-esque friend, to someone almost unrecognizable.
Those last days, my sister, Aunt and I took shifts, trying to keep him comfortable, reading to him, praying over him, playing his favorite Jack Johnson songs on loop.
My body remembers. The sleeplessness. The worry. The heartache. The weight of it all.
On the counter valentine’s cards and birthday gifts wait to be opened. We choose joy. When the tears come, and I know their source, I choose grace. For joy and grief can be so entangled.