"April is the cruelest month," T.S. Elliot wrote. He compared the sweet scents and sights of spring with the darkness of loneliness and despair.
For me, March is the cruelest month of the year. It's spring in Texas and the fields are filled with bluebonnets, azaleas paint the city in rose and pink and violet...and yet, spring beauty mingles with darkness.
My father died in March. It was my first loss of someone close to me. In my childhood I was "Daddy's girl," and I grieved his passing both for the child I had been and the adult I was when he died. He loved me in spite of my faults and he taught me to be who I am today.
My husband's birthday was March 1. He was born in a leap year and he always teased that his birthday was really February 29, but his mother insisted he was born just after midnight, so he was truly a March baby. His birthdays were times of celebration...until the last one in March 2005. Battling leukemia and waiting for a stem cell transplant scheduled the following week, he was tired and wan and we somehow knew that for him, March would not come again.
March 29 is a day I can't forget. Nineteen years old, a junior at the University of Texas living in the sorority house, I stood before an open window and a gust blew my dress into the gas heater behind me. Even as I fled screaming into the hall as the fire crackled around me, I knew not to run, but I couldn't stop.
A heroic girl who lived down the hall saved my life by throwing me to the floor and rolling me in a bedspread, but that was only the beginning. I endured pain and skin grafts the closeness of death for three months.
The March days were dark, but I learned the value of faith and of resilience and from each tragedy I learned that life goes on and I am stronger than I thought.