I don't like January.
January comes before February, and February comes before February 22nd, the day you died. And the 22nd comes before the 23rd, when you were born. Still. And it's all just too much and I'd rather they not.
One of my favorite song lyrics says: "Love is the shadow that ripens the wine." And I guess January and February feel less like love and more like the shadow. If that makes any sense.
To be honest, this time of year has always messed with me. It's dark when I leave for work in the morning. It's dark-ish when I drive home. The stuck inside longing for warmth and natural light all day and the messing with internal thermostats does a number on me. But it doesn't help that this month feels like a warm-up, of sorts. A cramming session. Practicing all my best coping mechanisms and memorizing exit routes and covering all the sharp edges. Preparing for the fall.
Last year I was so consumed with the fear that was my subsequent pregnancy. My rainbow. Getting him to his first breath was a responsibility felt every second of those nine months; a task perceived to have fallen entirely on my shoulders. I hardly felt anything but anxiety. Hardly counted anything but days and beats per minute, nearly every minute, and I hardly ever cried. Tears became fruitless. Nonessential. I remember feeling so very scared one morning and wanting to cry but putting on my shoes instead. Only helpful, productive thoughts. Only the paranoia. Nothing more.
When your little brother was born you flooded me. Thoughts of you on that February morning. Thoughts of all we'd missed every time he smiled. There was a week where I cried nearly every hour for seven days. Happy and sad tears. Tears of relief and guilt and exhaustion and pride. Angry tears and hormonal tears, and "we're out of orange juice" tears. I cried so much that I'm surprised I still have friends and a husband and lysozyme. It was a time of intense release and it was close to transformative, only nothing has really transformed because you're still gone and I'm still sad. And because that will never change.
Gradually the flow of tears has lessened. At least in the perpetual sense, it's just that I thought this second year would be easier. A moratorium on the memories that leave me paralyzed in my room, and in some ways this is true. It no longer hurts to breathe. I can say your name aloud without shaking and I can listen to the Strokes without crying. I can reach into the depths of my grief to try and help others without feeling consumed by such a time. Only I'm still consumed by such a time, because in reality two years is no time at all. Two years is a blip on the scale of a lifetime without you. A minuscule, laughable interval.
So maybe I'm sad because these days feel less like a training and more like a memory. A glimpse into an older life, seen not so long ago in these same hallways and kitchen tables. A life of planning and hoping and smiling. A life where I could feel you and know you. A life where you were inches away.
And I'm walking alongside it with you, in my winter coat and I'm just so unprepared. And we never see it coming.