January is always a bittersweet month for me, but this month there’s a sharper edge.
Certainly January is the first month of the year, a new beginning. Thus there’s something very hopeful about it, automatically. Even in the dead of winter (though that’s not very wintery here in Southwest Louisiana, or at least not usually), there’s a turn to the future, to a whole new year. The weather may be cold and wet, but you know that spring is coming.
It’s possible to think of turning a page, of closing the book on a year that was, perhaps, a painful or difficult one in ways. The calendar opens up to 12 months ahead, rather than closing in as it seems to in December.
It’s also when a new semester is about to begin.
All of these things are positive, and I’m always glad to see January for those reasons. However, January is also bittersweet for me. While it is the month when my younger sister was born (and that’s a happy thing), it is also the month when our brother Phil died of cancer.
That anniversary is something which no longer makes me depressed, though it does make me sad and always nostalgic. But the few days before and after come and then pass, and so also passes my sadness.
This month is quite different, however. In the past week, a dear friend and colleague has been been tentatively diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and the prognosis isn’t good. As with our friends and colleagues I’m in shock.
When a younger friend receives such a diagnosis, it’s always unsettling, to say the least.
Just why does this have such a sharp edge, you might wonder.
My brother had a brain tumor that metastasized to his spine. He underwent an experimental protocol at MD Anderson in Houston; it was not successful.
In the few days since the news spread about my friend, I’ve had flashbacks to the days and nights at MD Anderson all those years ago (late 1995). I’ve dreamed about my brother. I’ve found myself weeping at times. I haven’t had this sharp grief in years.
So I’m trying to keep focused on the new year ahead, on the spring that’s coming.