The Cruelest Month–In Which I Vent While Awaiting May’s Flowers

Dear Lily June,

[First and foremost, dear daughter, don’t even read this letter, okay? Your mother just had to–or just is a–bitch. But if I don’t break the silence that’s been building, I’m going to get crushed underneath. Better letters tomorrow, dear, I swear it! Hopefully a return to Guest Posts and everything!]

***

April is a month of fools. April is the month of showers tossing torrential downpours onto your head (literal and metaphorical) so that, under the deluge will arise the heartiest, most enduring of flowers (literal and metaphorical, I hope I hope). There are reasons, according to T.S. Eliot and your mother, that

“April is the cruellest month.”

I just tossed my depressing list at a friend (who is, in all her kindness and hilarity, one of the only bright bits amongst all of this), but it read, essentially, as follows:

This is the month my father reminded me who he is by threatening, if I don’t check my phone 2-3 times per day and respond to his calls within 4 hours, that I will never hear his voice again. (An overwhelmingly linguistic/literary bunch, my family members’ biggest threat is always to take away from one another that which we most treasure: our words.)

He was angry that I’d missed an emergency call for over 24 hours, the nature of which boiled down to this: My sister, your Aunt Loren, is on Facebook again. She is (gasp!) friends with her ex-boyfriends and (gasp!) a number of other strange men. IMHO, at almost 40, she has earned the right to choose who she talks to without having to justify it to anyone, least of all her mommy and daddy. And if she’s got cleavage the size and echoing quality of the grand canyon in her selfies, so be it. Her body, her choice, our discomfort if we choose, as her family, to troll through her profile pics.

That being said, she’s also started an online flirtationship with my first boyfriend, which shouldn’t be weird for me since it’s been forever since I even knew some younger version of the person she’s flirting with. But it is inexplicably weird for me, and it’s all the weirder because it’s weird, and I don’t get it. I am HAPPILY married to your father, and, short of writing about Nathan a few months ago, I rarely give him a second glance in my memory.

So why, oh why, this bitter taste of betrayal in the back of my throat? Do I only feel weird because I feel like I’m supposed to feel weird about this? Or is it because, as an anxious person, my world is so small? That there’s only a handful of men I’ve ever let into my heart (literally), and a handful of friends I’ve ever let into my life (seriously), and Nathan is one in the first handful, my sister the second, and with the mixture of handfuls, it’s making me want to wring my hands? That I want to believe, in all my naivete, that the people from your past preserve the memories of you there without ever wanting a present to impede on that sacred snapshot by peeking at who you’ve become?

(Is it because, in moments like this, I somehow always stupidly believe the only panacea is overanalysis until my brain sizzles like a pan full of bacon? Did I mention that while my ex’s skin cleared and his muscles got ripped, I started to look more and more like ten pounds of chipped ham in a nine pound bag? Could the fact that I feel hideously undesirable lately, even to my own husband, have something to do with why I feel like my heart’s feet are walking on cognitive glass with this situation?)

And while I wrestled with this–the potential loss of my father, what’s going on with my sister and my ex–and what it all should mean to a heart that’s pretty fragile and oversensitive anyway, my boss’s heart started racing and beating irregularly. She called me calmly into her office to inform me, “Alyssa, you’ll have to drive me to the hospital. I’m having a heart attack.” And so I did, dutifully, and watched as doctors and nurses stripped her and made her vulnerable and naked and jammed syringes into her to steady her heart’s rhythm and beat. And it wasn’t an attack but unexplained a. fib and tachycardia which means next to nothing to me, but they want to keep her because an MRI revealed a buildup of calcium in an aorta.

And some people at work called me a hero, but I just did what she told me to do and drove her to where the actual heroes do what they do, and I sent her balloons, and I won’t be able to visit because I’m doing the work back at the workplace she’s not at, meeting with the students she couldn’t meet with to tell them what to do. And I’m trying, while I type emails and work on major scheduling projects, not to think of it all as meaningless as I contemplate my own mortality.

And your dad and I are still house hunting, only I feel like I’m the prey, and the predator is stress, and it’s hunting me. And we found a home we fell in love with, but the problems with it just keep unraveling like strings from a woven tapestry, and it might need a new furnace and water heater and it might have a rotting roof and it might have holes in the floor and it might have once been termite treated and and and if we buy the wrong thing, with our poverty, we might have purchased our own financial sinkhole to be sucked down into.

And Lily June, in the midst of all this, I have to once again gently remind you that to live as a human being: SLEEP IS NOT AN OPTIONAL THING.

And all of that was building when your dad sent a message online to me to tell me that his mother’s–your Granny Granma Alison’s–bowels have come detached from a complication with Crohn’s and she won’t stop bleeding and she needs surgery that the doctors aren’t sure her heart and lungs are up for. And she is precious to all of us, Lily, and your mother’s heart this month just cannot break into a single other piece, or you could use it to retile the bathroom in the gorgeous pit we might be putting an offer on as soon as tomorrow afternoon.

And I was so overwhelmed, little love, that when I got home from work yesterday, I didn’t do or clean anything. I just took you outside and sat you in the grass that you’re FINALLY not afraid of anymore, and we sat under a tree (dogwood? magnolia?), listening to the wind pour through the leaves and little white flowers that poured like the snow in a tipped-over snowglobe over you and me. And it was the moment of peace I will keep clinging and clinging to until April is over.

It was Shakespeare who wrote,

“Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May.”

But you, baby, were born in a May, and you were so tough, you could barely be shaken from my womb. And with everything going on lately, you have learned (albeit inconsistently) to point and to clap and to wave. (In fact, you were waving so hard at someone in your dreams last night that it woke you.) I doubt any winds–even all these recent winds of change–will phase you. And in the meantime, let me promise you this: I will always be there to help turn your life’s monsters into no more than windmills.

I will, no matter how often you call me back, never stop reaching out to you. I will teach you to love others, and then let go as those others are going to do what they’re going to do, even if it means they don’t always show the love you need back to you. I will encourage you to guard your own heart without hardening it, and to attempt to recognize the fragility in the hearts (and bodies) of others. I will show you that loving arms can sometimes be the only shelter you need, and I will teach you to build your life on a strong foundation of friendship and common humanity, only building up walls around yourself when to not do so would expose you to crueler elements than you feel yourself capable of handling.

I hope to teach you the fine art of wrassling down debt and lifting up your own body. I hope to teach you that health is more important than money (even though one does seem to help attain the other), and that it’s never too late to set your bad habits down. I hope to teach you compassion and empathy for those in the kinds of pain that are beyond your immediate understanding. And I hope to teach you, like a friend recommended to both of us lately, to stop and listen to the wind. It can, if it doesn’t heal your mind or body, knit your spirit back together, if only for a minute.

***

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24 thoughts on “The Cruelest Month–In Which I Vent While Awaiting May’s Flowers

  1. myopiniononlifecom says:

    OK I guess I understand but how can a month be cruel or bad a month is an inanimate object so you are using personification on a month which is good but also bad because you can confuse a lot of people

    *Taelynn Davis*

    Like

  2. bitsfromheaven says:

    My sweet/loving/heart as beautiful as the most in-bloom magnolia tree…
    Fathers are fathers no matter how shitty they may smell or be and as much of anything I don’t know I know this of fathers. Don’t let him shake your beautiful petals, as you have found that your beauty doesn’t come from him but from all he made for you to detest and all you’ve chosen not to be.
    While you may feel like a ho-hum worker bee your duties are done diligently and your daughter is so proud that her mama saved the day – her day, yet again. And how truly heroic that is. Sometimes watching the wind blow through the trees is exactly what the doctor calls for.
    As we sit and ponder together the many stresses of our hearts, let us remember that it is not that our hearts are failing us but rather fighting ever so hard to keep us here, keep us human…
    Remember DLJ, it’s just a day, and tonight as it ends you will be where it/you matter most – in the arms of LJ, and holding on.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. janeydoe57 says:

    Oh Alyssa, my heart goes out to you in this period of stress. I don’t know what to address first, or whether to address any of it beyond lending you a shoulder and an ear. Know this my dear, YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU REALIZE. When you look back on this month in years to come I think you’ll be amazed at how strong you were. I know that doesn’t help you now, but remember how many of us out here care about you and your little family. I so wish I could give you a great big mom hug!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. joyroses13 says:

    OH my heart goes out to you in this hard month for you! First of all it was so strong of you to share and be vulnerable with all of us, this is what I am still learning to do. My post this morning was about sharing your burdens! We are meant to , so we can hold each other up! So glad you wrote this letter and make sure LillyJune does see it! Let her see that Mom can cry, can get angry and upset. That life is hard and that there are times that you do need to put all aside and go sit under the Magnolia tree and feel the wind blow! That IT IS OK, to take a moment to breathe for you know that somehow, someway you will get up again. HUGS to you my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dearlilyjune says:

      Corrie, you know I’m terrible about getting back to comments on time. I just wanted to tell you how kind your compliment was, and I think the same of you. It’s clear, even from your writings about RA, that you teach compassion to everyone you meet.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Debbie Diljak says:

    Anxiety does like to pile things on, doesn’t it? I’m sorry you are going through so much, but glad you have your sweet husband and baby to help see you through. Houses are wonderful to own, but they can be expensive. Hope you find one that works for your family!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dearlilyjune says:

      Debbie, I’m extraordinarily late in responding to this comment, but I just wanted to thank you for your kind words. If you celebrate it, I wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving. If not, I wish you much in this life to be thankful for, regardless!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Amy says:

    Damn, girl, I’m cryingandsmilingandshakingmyheadandraisingmyeyebrowsandtearyandalittlegigglY from how you can write through shit! And now I’ve gone and swore twice (sorry, LilyJune, if you’re still little while reading this and it bothers your sensibilities. Please know that every once in a while, say, when your mom blows my mind, a well placed swear word is just the – only? – thing) and I know you’re hurting but I feel wildly liberated by how you just showed all that ick who’s boss. AND you’ve blessedly shed some much needed light and solidarity-happiness on the whole, “April’s hard and I don’t know why” thing I’ve been experiencing, and it’s made me feel better (even if I still don’t understand why April’s hard with all this goodness around me like good writing, lovely breezes, precious children, irritating houses that I love but that require so much attention). So thank you. I can’t explain it, but you can, you did, and I am better for it and know that you will be too. ‘Cause how can you put words to all that and not be? Impossible. Amazing. And I know I should stop and I know it sounds gushy, but I’m just so proud of you and the whole human race this minute for having folks in it (like you) that are so blessedly gifted. Keep up the good work, girl. And (palpable) goodness will come back around.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. dearlilyjune says:

      Amy, it’s been about a billion years since I’ve gotten a chance to respond to any of your comments or even emails. I just wanted to drop you a line this time of year, though, to let you know that I’m thankful for YOU. I wish you and your brood endless blessings in the days to come.

      Like

  7. Allie P. says:

    I was always bothered by the story of Little Women, how Laurie married Amy after being rejected by Amy’s sister, Jo. It made me think that he was so determined to be a member of the family that really any sibling would do. Not exactly a romantic ending in my opinion. The idea of kissing someone my sister has kissed makes me go ick just thinking about it.

    My exes have always been off limits to my siblings, although if you ask them they’d probably tell you it is a rule I would never have to worry about even if they weren’t all married. If I’d rejected the guy, well then he obviously wasn’t a fit for me or my family, or if he had rejected me (I know – it seems so impossible, but it did happen 😉 ) then he obviously didn’t know how to appreciate someone of value.

    And Lily… really. You are almost a big girl now and big girls need to let their mommies sleep.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Patricia says:

    I have been struggling with whether to comment on this because you did say you needed to vent and I wasn’t sure if that invited comments. However, I can seldom keep my mouth shut, as you are well aware. I would be hurt if my sister dated someone I had been in a relationship with. I am like that. It hurts! It’s a girl code, you don’t date your girlfriend’s (or sister’s) boyfriends or ex-boyfriends. It may seem selfish but I have been on both sides and when it is done to you, you realize just how selfish it was. I think all the infidelity I grew up around affected my boundaries, sadly. I am not a cheater but I took advantage of 3 friend’s over a period of time, I am ashamed to admit. I have made amends to all of them. Two of them could have been considered payback but I can’t look at it that way. On the other hand, do we own people? That question is not directed at you but more to myself. I would say that it makes a difference whether the two people are just a flash in the pan or whether they are truly good for each other. No matter what , Alyssa, it hurts and makes for discomfort. We both know that your sister is damaged and perhaps she takes comfort where she can get it which is not healthy. Have you told her how you feel? Perhaps it would be good to have a calm, frank discussion but it wouldn’t be good to do until you have thought it through. Whatever you decide, work through this, don’t let it fester. I think it is good that you wrote about it. We are here to listen because we love you. So, bottom line, you are not alone.❣️

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Patricia says:

    Sorry, I realized as I read comments that I didn’t even finish reading your post. It sounds to me like you are finding your answer to peace. I have been struggling lately with my anxiety and ADD lately and my solution is to slow down. I have to take one step at a time and not let my mind crowd everything else I have to do press on me. I also have to turn away from guilt. As one of my counselors told me more than once, NOTHING has to be done right this minute. Of course, that is not always true, like taking your boss to the ER.lol You have no idea how well you are managing, do you? Reading what you wrote about your father shows how much you are in control of your own life. Do not let him intimidate you. Its sad to say but it is too late for him to jump in an raise his two daughters. He can be a sounding board and give advice if asked for but like most alcoholics, he needs to be in control. Just pretend to listen and say “Uh Huh, Uh Huh oh sorry Dad but the baby just threw a glass of milk at your picture! I really have to go. Talk soon! You might also gently remind him that your sister acting out is not an emergency in your book. But its easy for me to say. I hope all goes well with the house.🌹

    Liked by 2 people

  10. lindalanger6 says:

    Oh Alyssa, I am so sorry for all the pile-on of stress, but I am so proud of your willingness to be vulnerable, and your ability to write so beautifully about it. Brilliant, sad and lovely, you found some solace in your daughter and drifting petals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dearlilyjune says:

      What’s the statute of limitations on gratitude, Linda? I’m sorry I didn’t express mine when you wrote me this incredibly kind comment. I hope you are able to find solace or peace today (whichever you might need) in something as small as drifting petals today.

      Like

  11. Lonna Hill says:

    I hope that some of the stress has settled down. Your moment with Lily under the trees sounds like a little piece of heaven in the midst of a hellish month. Isn’t it amazing how our little ones can do that? I remember, when my son was less than a year old, coming home from work wanting to do nothing more than hide in a corner and cry, but then I picked him up and gave him a hug and everything just seemed to melt away. . . I didn’t need to go hide and cry, I needed to hold him and soak in the love and snuggles.

    And those last two paragraphs took my breath away. So beautiful. Lily is so blessed to have you for a mommy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. dearlilyjune says:

      Lonna, still working my way through the old comments while I know you’re on a bit of a break from your blog.

      I just wanted to say that I hope you and your littles are having more moments like the one you described above, where you soak in the love and the snuggles as often as possible.

      Liked by 1 person

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