April. A gorgeous month. The leaves on the trees start to emerge, spring bulbs pop up in explosions of color. I daydream of camping, summer festivals and beers on the deck. Students grow restless for summer, and I do too. I welcome the colorful chairs on the Memorial Union Terrace like old friends. We turn off the heat in the house, open the windows and let our hopes for the coming months fly out into the atmosphere.
But April has not always been so kind to my family. It has been marked by loss of all sorts. Loss of loved ones weary and sick, sudden loss, loss of the young and of the young at heart.
I anticipate April. April’s losses have always felt sudden, but April doesn’t sneak up on me. I can feel it coming as the days stretch gradually out, as the first warm breeze whispers across my face. I can feel it on my arms the first time I go outside in short sleeves.
In a way, I kind of appreciate that nearly all of my personal landmines are neatly tucked into a 30-day period. As the world takes a deep breath to welcome the spring, I can use the time to look back and reflect before summer arrives and I am wholly focused on my present.
April has had a way of providing. The April day I lost the happiest man I have ever known was glorious and sunny and beautiful. I was by myself all day that day and my reaction after hearing the news was to throw my windows open for the first time that spring. The warm breeze that came in was cleansing and real and made me feel as if I wasn’t alone. And during the hardest week of my saddest April it rained for days and days, as if to tell me that the world was crying with me. And perhaps it was.
Two years ago, with April behind me, I had my first Mother’s Day. I was a mama, but did not have a baby to hold in my arms. My husband bought me a lovely bleeding heart that I planted in my garden.
And every April, my bleeding heart blooms.