March has been a tough month for my family. There have been worrisome health issues with my grandchildren, financial problems that worsen daily, a stomach flu that passed through and left all of us shaky and weak for several days, and the increasing stress of competing in today's uncertain business world. My mother's birthday -- March 10 -- was especially sad for me this year because my sister was not here to remember her with me. Tomorrow -- March 22, would be the 36th birthday of my stillborn daughter, and this day is always painful for me.
March itself is one of the least favorite months to many of us in the Northeast. We live suspended between winter and spring -- a seesaw ride -- as spring breathes its first stirrings of warm air and snowdrops, and then retreats quickly to a cover of wet snow. It is a month of mud, bare trees, brown grass and disappointments.
This past week, though, spring won the battle for a few days. I took the babies for walks in the warmth of the March sunshine. Friday afternoon I left my office work undone and raked all the leaf mulch from my front gardens. As always, I was filled with wonder at the tiny green plants forming already despite the cold darkness of heavy, wet leaf cover. The lilacs and roses have tiny buds -- while we may wonder if spring will ever truly be here, these plants are certain that God will not fail us. We still have a long way to go, and I still have several flower gardens left to uncover, but, finally, the spirit of spring is within me.
Last night was a highlight of this month -- a surprise 30th birthday party for my beloved nephew. What a wonderful evening it was. When we were younger, these large family gatherings were frequent and sometimes thrown together at the last moment. As our families have grown and the pace of our world has become more hectic, we find that we gather only for these milestone celebrations now. But it is wonderful to be together again -- to laugh and hug and see our babies grown now into young adults, some with babes of their own.
My sister-in-law put together a lovely video which made tears flow as we watched our little ones transform before our eyes, saw ourselves young once again, and savored the faces of loved ones no longer with us.
As a family, we are a rich tapestry of personalities, woven together by the bonds of blood and love, and I left the party last night grateful to my mother-in-law and her sister and brother who kept the traditions of their family alive and passed them down to us all - a gift that enriches all of our lives -- and a family where love abides.