Of endings. And beginnings.
I lost my mum in February.
February is a crappy month in my family. My dad died on 3 February twenty-one years ago. My grandad died on 14 February six years before that. And this year, mum died on 11 February. So, along with the slow dragging-out of the dirty, grey, tail-end of winter and the forced, artificial sentimentality of Valentine’s Day, you can understand why it’s my least favourite month of the year.
Thirty days hath September, April, June and November;
All the rest have thirty-one, save February
Which is interminable.
I’d always been close to Mum, but never more than the last few years, when she needed my support more and more through a series of serious health problems and a shocking sexual assault at her home in 2016.
In fact, since I was twelve, I’ve been helping to care for her one way or another. That’s when she had her first hip replacement â€“ she had severe osteoarthritis, and multiple other health issues which led to disability, a plethora of surgeries and many extended hospital stays over the next forty years.
The last four years were the worst: falls, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, pulmonary oedema, strokes, endocarditis, myelodysplasia, ulcerative gout, recurrent mouth ulcers â€“ it went on and on, with Mum needing more and more care and support from the NHS, social services and me. In the end, her poor, tired body just gave out on her. And so her life ended that morning in February, as did my role as a daughter and carer.
Well, not quite, as I still had a funeral to arrange, a flat to clear out, and an estate to administer as executor. There’s always so much to do when someone dies, you know.
I’ve finished all those tasks now, some four months later. The funeral was small, but I think she would have liked it. We emptied her flat and left it in good order for the next tenant. The bills were paid, the refunds arranged, and the small balance distributed according to her will. It is done.
And I am at a loss to know what comes next.
Very sorry for your loss. Yes, February will always be interminable.
Coming to this post late, but on the heels of my changing attitude toward February – my dad’s school called February “Gloom Period”, which was always how I had felt about it. But in the past few years I’ve left the Western, science-centric, religious holidays background behind, and become more interested in the Celtic wheel of the year, which is much more in line with nature and the seasons, and I find very grounding. And February is the start of spring; February 2 – Groundhog Day in the US, Candlemas for Anglicans, & St. Brigid’s Day for Catholics – is Imbolc, which has to do with lambing. And if you look hard in February you can see spring in development, the Lenten roses starting, the snow drops – and in the US, the smell of skunks leaving their dens to mate (weird sign of spring, but there you have it). So I feel differently about February now – all that gray & gloom is the manure in which spring is birthed. So remember those who birthed you, and bloom in spring.