Frozen February

The frozen Charles River from my window.

February was a frozen blur. Boston saw more snow this winter than we have in recent years, but the storms were small and dumped a few manageable inches every week or so. February is known to be the snowiest month here, and I think it has been so pretty and enjoyable.

(Of course, I’ve been able to work mostly from home, and haven’t had to trudge through the snow on icy city sidewalks this year!)

In the middle of the month, I had an enormous work project that required a few days of on-site work and interaction with a lot more people than I’ve been used to. I bought some warm winter gear, since I’d be outside in below-freezing temperatures for 10-hour days; I doubled-up on well-fitting face masks; and filled my pockets with little containers of hand sanitizer. Thankfully, all went well, I stayed healthy, and I got about 10,000 extra steps each day — much more than I’ve been getting since working from home!

Now that the stress of that work project is behind me, I’m back to channeling calm and reflecting on what’s truly important. Looking at the frozen Charles River outside my apartment, I’ve thought about how sometimes life just stands still. Hard times, dark moments, cold winter days — they can stop us in our tracks.

In that pause, there is an opportunity, and maybe a need, to take cover, protect ourselves, focus on self-preservation and self-care. As the hard times ease, as darkness ever so slowly fades into light, there is time for reflection.

Today, I noticed that the ice in the river had broken, and I saw an unfamiliar movement in the water — the river was flowing again.

The days are getting longer, with more sunlight in the sky each evening. The temperatures are warming, ever so slightly. Spring decorations are in stores, with fuzzy bunnies and hatching chicks symbolizing birth and renewal and the Easter promise of eternal life after death.

We are approaching the one-year mark of the pandemic shutdown. With vaccines becoming more and more available, and warmer weather returning, there is so much to hope for!

Traveling again, gathering with family and friends, giving hugs and kisses on cheeks!

It’s starting to feel like the ice is breaking, and life may start flowing along like the river.

What are you most looking forward to?

Messages from Heaven

A purple sky at sunset

I used to absolutely hate the color purple. I don’t know why, exactly. It has always been one of my least favorite colors.

When my dad was alive, I used to help him and my husband with some of the “paperwork” for their Fantasy Football team. One day, when we were discussing the team name, I asked my dad what our team colors were. “Purple and yellow,” he said. I tried to argue and pick different colors, but he insisted. That Christmas, as a gift, I bought him a big purple blanket with our team name embroidered on it. When he passed, despite its color, the blanket was one of the mementos I most wanted to keep.

In the days and weeks after his passing, I suddenly started seeing purple EVERYWHERE. On my walk to work, I’d see a lone purple flower poking up from the sidewalk. I was randomly given beautiful purple orchids from not one but two coworkers who didn’t know the story of my dad’s favorite color. A new building was being constructed outside of my office, and my jaw dropped when I came in one morning and saw that the entire building was covered in purple building materials. My whole body got chills when I’d see a spectacular purple sunset, a sight that I’d never ever noticed before.

I know that these could all be coincidences, but I choose to believe instead that they are messages from my dad… little reminders that he is still around. He was always the type of personality to make his presence known.

He doesn’t just send me purple messages. In the days after he passed, I started seeing a solitary monarch butterfly. It would flutter past me when I was sitting outside, thinking of him. I got a gut feeling that it was from him, so going forward, when I saw the butterfly, I’d say “Hi, Dad!” Once I accepted it, I’d start to see monarch butterflies on meaningful occasions, and my friends have seen and noticed it, too. They fly right up to my face sometimes. It’s really pretty wild.

I’ve been told by family members that when we see an eagle or a hawk, that is my dad, too. And I have a very special awareness of feathers—I’ve seen them at the most emotional times, when thinking about or talking aloud to other special people who have passed from my life. At times, feathers literally float down from the sky when I am talking about someone I miss. My dad likes to send me big, prominent feathers, like those from a Blue Jay bird. He also sometimes makes sure that I hear a special song— when I’m in the car, a song that he liked will play on three different stations, so I keep hearing it over and over. Like I said, he was always someone to be noticed!

In the past few days, I’ve been talking to him about a few things… I miss him and I want his help with a few things that feel out of my control. Yesterday, while out running errands, my husband and I saw three hawks—one almost landed on our car! Then, in the middle of the highway on a cold winter day, a monarch butterfly flew past our windshield. And just now, I looked up from my desk, and out the window, I saw that the sky had turned a beautiful shade of purple.

I feel like he’s trying to tell me something, but I don’t know what. Maybe he just wants me to know that he’s here.

What do you think? Have you ever received any messages from Heaven?

A Fresh Start

A lot has happened since I started this blog.

Most obviously, the global pandemic that continues to wreak all the havoc that I feared in my last blog post. As predicted, the virus spread like wildfire after Thanksgiving. I’ve known several people who have contacted COVID-19, and it is scary and awful! I’m continuing to wash and sanitize my hands, wear a mask whenever I’m outside of my home, and keep 6-feet distance whenever possible. The vaccines bring much promise for an end to the pandemic, but we have a ways to go before it’s truly “over.” I hope everyone reading this is staying safe and healthy!

The pandemic made the recent holidays look much different than we were used to, which was a little depressing. I truly tried to stave off the sadness. I tried hours of Christmas music, many cups of hot cocoa, many more Christmas cookies and treats, and countless utopian Hallmark Christmas movies. I bought way too many presents for my husband, and even bought a few cozy Christmas sweaters and sparkly snowflake earrings for myself. Nothing really helped because it couldn’t replace what I was really missing: the togetherness that comes along with the holidays. I missed the crowded parties with my coworkers and friends! I missed going to church, seeing all the beautiful decorations, and singing along with the hundreds of others in the pews around me. Most of all, I missed seeing family members, gathering together for a meal, and giving hugs!

Last night, New Year’s Eve, was a quiet night in. As a final “Quarantine Activity” of 2020, I attempted to turn my apartment into a nightclub so that my husband and I could really “party.” I blew up balloons, created a special VIP lounge, cooked up some yummy tapas, and chilled some bubbly wine. My husband thought it was very exciting, and it was fun… for about two hours. Then, like most people we know, we were ready to go to bed and have 2020 be over, once and for all!

And now, here we are. New Year’s Day. January 1, 2021. A fresh start.

I started this blog in 2019, when my new year’s resolution (two years ago!) was to share my voice after “a tough year.” If only January 2019 Me could see January 2021 Me! She’d never believe all that we’ve been through.

I started writing this blog in October 2019. I was in the middle of my third uveitis flare, and it was only a few months after my father died. In November 2019, my husband and I were surprised and overjoyed with a pregnancy. Then 8 weeks later, we were devastated by a miscarriage. Grief overtook my entire world, and the combination of losses left me reeling into January 2020, when we started hearing some unnerving details of a novel coronavirus. Less than six weeks later, the world shutdown.

In April, amidst the lockdown, I began losing my vision again and started treatment for a fourth uveitis flare (which I can now attribute, with almost 100% certainty, to stress). We acknowledged the one year anniversary of my father’s passing in July, closing out a year of painful “firsts” without him. Throughout all that, my husband and I have wrestled with the concept of “trying to conceive” after loss (and during a pandemic!), and all along, I have been mentally acknowledging another year of painful “firsts” … All the occasions that I was experiencing for the first time without a baby in my arms: the first Mother’s Day since the miscarriage, the baby’s due date had he/she survived, and worst of all, the anniversary of the loss itself, which literally brought me to my knees.

My head hasn’t stopped spinning. But maybe it’s starting to slow down.

It’s time for a renewed resolution.

We have many more months of distancing, staying home, and slowing the spread of the continued pandemic, so there is plenty of time to focus on betterment:
– More frequent and well-practiced writing (which is truly a passion and beloved hobby I’ve neglected for so long!)
– Focused efforts on physical health (for myself and any little ones that God might bless us with)
– Reflection, meditation, and careful attention to self-care and mental health (as, unsurprisingly, my old friend Anxiety has started creeping around lately)

The times we are living in are truly wild, remarkable, and unprecedented. I got a good laugh out of this meme:

Courtesy @simoncholland

I hope you are finding some memes that make you laugh, and I hope you are taking time for self-care as the difficult days drag on. Have you made any resolutions for 2021? Or is it enough that we just try to make it through?