January is a weird month.
On the one hand, I find myself filled with optimism – it’s a new year, I can start some new projects, maybe set up a calendar to keep my self organized. I’m hopeful that this year will be a good one – that I will learn more, accomplish more and be happier.
Along with moving forward I find myself looking back. While I have friends to celebrate with in January I also mourn the loss of others. This week, especially, has been one of reflection and remembrance.
Two of my close friends celebrate birthdays this month. One lives near me and we’ve been friends for several years now. We’ve talked until I’ve thought there would be nothing left to say. But there always is. Our families are close and we do a lot together. Or we used to. As our sons grow up we don’t rely on each other as much for the day to day and we don’t talk as much as we once did. I do still consider her one of my closest friends and I love the joy her friendship has brought me.
The other friend has been part of my life for about twenty-three years. We’ve been roommates and long distance friends, both. It’s probably been almost twenty years since we’ve lived in the same state but every time we talk it’s as if we’re sitting on the couch in our second apartment laughing hysterically and talking over each other because we can’t get the stories out fast enough. We have grown up together and her friendship, just knowing that she’s out there if I need her, is one of the most important friendships I have. Anyone that can make me laugh the way she does, often in thirty seconds flat, well, she’s a keeper.
As grateful as I am for these friendships and for celebrating another birthday with my friends, my thoughts this week have largely been occupied by those friends who’ve passed in recent Januarys. Along with sadness, I have to admit a bit of confusion and anger. I may not have a right to the anger but I can’t help it. Two passed at their own hands and one of a terrible illness and the losses all make me a little angry.
All are gone too soon. All were young, enthusiastic, engaging, funny. I wouldn’t presume to know the situations surrounding the suicides. One was a childhood friend and former co-worker I hadn’t been in touch with for a while and the other was a co-worker whose friendship ran hot and cold. Yet despite the lack of recent closeness to either of them, I still think about them and miss them, I think about their families and the friends who still mourn.
My anger towards them or about them or about their deaths isn’t a blaming type of anger, I don’t think. It’s an anger of not knowing and not understanding. I like to know “the why.” Why things happen and what people are thinking. There’s also the question that constantly runs through my mind: “if you knew the impact of your death, would you have gone through with it anyway?”
I had distance from both and I still feel a great loss. I cannot imagine the impact on those close to them.
Believe me, I understand there are a multitude of issues that could be responsible, depression and mental illness among them. I’m not discounting the challenges these illnesses present or that people can be “not in their right mind” when they make the decision to end their life.
But when I know of one friend’s struggle to live and know another has given up, it’s hard for me to not feel some anger at the one giving up.
I had a friend with cystic fibrosis and he did everything within his power to live but lost his battle anyway. He fought his illness, he followed his dreams aggressively, he was joyful in his life, he wanted to be alive and he would have done anything to still be here.
It doesn’t seem fair.
I know life’s not fair.
Ultimately, the end result for each of them was the same. Despite the fact that one went kicking and screaming and another went willingly; each is gone, each is missed and each made an impact on me.
I’m unable to make sense of their deaths, despite the time spent thinking. There will never be definitive answers and I will never be settled or completely accepting.
This keeps my brain very busy – examining, searching, remembering.
It’s a weird month.
well said as always- and no, life isn;t fair and sometimes you think “My God, this person has enough to deal with- they can’t handle anything else” but God thinks otherwise and gives them more on their plate. January is one of those months I just want to get through- not really enjoying the month, just looking to hibernate until its over…
Yes, I wonder about how others manage what, to me, seems impossible. This month has had a lot of triggers and given me lots to think about. And next month is better…your birthday!!
This is more how I feel about February, because I lost both my grandparents in that month (different years of course). As we are getting closer to February, they definitely get to be more and more on my mind. So, I can definitely relate and have been even wanting to write and share my feelings on my own blog about this, too.
It’s strange how the mind works and brings up things seemingly randomly but we know theres a reason. I feel better having written this and I hope you get the chance to do a post about your grandparents, the writing is a way of working through I think, and I know you can appreciate the writing!
Aw. I’m so sorry that January is such a mixed bag for you. 🙁
You’re so right. It’s not fair at all. Not by a long shot. It sucks. I feel like it’s hard to get closure in situations like these. It just makes it all the harder.
I’m glad that you have the celebration of two friends to balance January out just a bit. Not that anything can erase the loss you feel, of course, but just that there are at least some bright spots in the month, too. (That dancing picture is the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen!) I’ll be thinking of you, Stephanie. –Lisa
Thanks Lisa. There are definitely some bright spots and I don’t spend the whole month weepy 🙂 just thinking a lot. Which can be a good thing in the end.
January is a weird month. I do have months like you mentioned – the kind that brings up memories and associations all over the place. January isn’t one of them for me, but I find it a bit of a dark and gloomy month. I can see why it would be hard for people.
And hey, it’s almost over!
The dancing photo is amazing.
Yes, it’s almost over and yes, it’s dark and gloomy and snowy! I’ve never been bothered by the weather (that I’ve noticed) but this year has been a toughie. And thanks about the pic, it cracks me up every time I look at it.
I understand that feeling. Mike has lost several friends, through accidents, and suicide. One was my friend as well and for years, I would drive past the place where he committed suicide and get mad. He had such much going for him, and yet so many demons. I still remember getting a call from a reporter friend of mine, who broke the news to me. Thinking of you.
I’m sorry Michelle, those kinds of losses – unexpected and unexplained – I think are tough. We can’t stop wondering.
This January has been kicking my ***. I don’t have a particular month that is worse for me. I’m sorry that every January feels weird for you.
Funny thing – it isn’t usually tough, it’s been two years for 2 of them (that was a tough year) and 10 for my friend who was sick but I found a letter from him and I think that was the trigger – the way he talked about his life was so full of hope and determination. Something I wish everyone could read, even just for perspective.
Sigh… what a month for you, Stephanie. I know those feelings well. I think we all do. Anger, confusion, doubt and despair all rolled into one. Why? I hate it all- and wish I had answers…
I can’t make sense of that. I can only pray that there truly is a Heaven and eternity and a God that will make it all worthwhile for the pain and suffering some endure. And eventually, we all endure. Really, don’t we?
I agree. With everything you just said. Thanks Chris.
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