Monday, March 9, 2009

On the End of Six Weeks of Winter

Since I first weathered a winter season in the Southeast six years ago, I have often joked that we have six weeks of winter here. Not in the sense that Punxsutawney Phil has or has not seen his shadow, but in the sense that we generally have about six weeks of consistently cold, dreary weather before the quick spring warm-up begins. This period of time usually lasts from my birthday week in mid/late January to the end of February or first few days of March. Depending how it goes, it amounts to about six calendar weeks. Our winters prior to this, from about mid-November on, are typically a back-and-forth cat fight between forty degree weather and seventy, sometimes overnight. (I prefer when the seventy degree “cat” wins).

This winter has been the first one for which my six weeks of winter joke has not held true in the physical sense. The weather started to turn cold (freezing and lower) in late October, and from then on, we had more cold days than not, although there was still some yo-yoing between the forties and the seventies at times. Just last Tuesday we had snow. Saturday we were outside all day in shorts and t-shirts. There will still be some cool days, but I believe that this is likely the end of our physical six weeks of winter.

I hope it is the end of my emotional six weeks of winter as well.

Grief is never fun, and it is never easy. Sometimes it hits you at times when you fully anticipate it and other times it completely blindsides you. Either way, it’s still painful.

In some ways, my grief this winter has been harder to deal with than it was at this time last year. Maybe it’s because I spent the first year worrying about just that – the firsts - and was able to avoid some of the more intense waves of grief. Maybe it’s because this winter I made some changes to the house after finally sorting through and distributing all of her things. Maybe it’s because I finally found and started reading some blogs by other widow/ers and found that we had way too much in common. Maybe it’s because I decided to start blogging about my own experiences as well. Maybe it’s one of these factors, or maybe it’s all of them.

Either way, it’s still painful.

In addition to all of this, some other significant dates have matched their original days on the calendar this year as well. The days surrounding my daughter’s premature birth were both wonderful and terrifying, and I’m sure there will be occasion to write about those at length in a later post. For the first time, those dates, beginning with Monday, February 16th, and ending with Thursday, February 26th, fell on the same days of the week as they did five years ago. For some reason that made me relive the terrifying parts of that journey more vividly this year. Ironically, the happiest of those days apart from her birthday was the 26th, which was the day we all came home together for the first time, but I was torn up on that date this year for an entirely different reason.

As if the events of two and five years ago, respectively, were not enough to send my emotions into a tailspin, there was one other date that got to me more than usual this year. This one was from 22 years ago, and I really didn’t expect it to affect me like it did. On Friday, March 6, 1987, my dad was killed in a boating accident, leaving my mom to raise her four children alone. Given everything I’ve gone through the past two years, I thought I would be okay after the 5th. But the calendar and the weather got in the way. The day/date matched up, and the weather was unseasonably warm, both here and back in the Midwest where I grew up. It felt like the first day of spring, which is precisely why he decided to go fishing that day. I called my mom, who has since remarried, that afternoon and she said she had been affected by it more this year than in the past few, for many of the same reasons I had.

I guess it goes to show that our loved ones may be gone, but will not ever be truly forgotten.

This weekend was beautiful. The weather was sunny, with a slight to gusty breeze both days. I got in lots of yard-therapy, while I readied the flower beds for transplanting and the like. And I got to spend some much-needed time with my best girl on her backyard swing set. I received a phone call from friends with some plans to take an exciting trip later this spring, then an e-mail which will have me welcoming some unexpected visitors later this month. It was a perfect way to end 6(+) weeks of winter.

After a bleak and dismal period, things finally seem to be looking up a bit. The rough days will still come. Grief will linger at times that are both on and off my radar. And some days when things seem to be in-check for me, my daughter’s grief will overwhelm her. The end of winter does not mean that our situation will suddenly become what it is not. But something about this winter period ending gives me hope that its burden will at least be a bit easier to bear over the coming months.

If I had a good bottle of wine, I’d raise a glass right now: To the end of winter.

Or more importantly: To the beginning of spring.


  1. I just found your blog through Matt Logelin's. I'm so sorry for your loss. You (and Matt) are an amazing man and your wife would be so very proud of you. Your blog tugs at my heartstrings.

  2. I am grateful for all the work Matt is doing for young widow/ers. If anyone was blogging about this two years ago, I certainly could not find them. Thank you for commenting and for being one of the growing number of people who cares.

  3. I have felt the same "spring" feeling lately. Living in Florida, we don't get much of a winter but something about the weather starting to warm up. I have felt better most days than I was before.

    I still worry how long this "good" period will last. But I'm taking it. Cause I need some good days after six months of bad.

  4. Star- After two+ years I can tell you that no two "good" periods are alike, just as no two bad ones are. My hope for you is that each "good" period last a little longer and is a bit better.