“Momma, how do you spell leprechaun?” My daughter is asking me, again, how to spell yet another word.
“L-e-p-r-e-c-h-a-u-n.” I slur the letters a little fast, hoping she won’t take notice.
“Momma, you went too fast. Spell it again.” With a focused look, she reminds me of a grade school teacher. She is equipped with a clipboard in one hand and a green pen in another.
“I have too much to do. I will spell the words later.” I get back to the task at hand, while she stomps away in the other direction.
“Fine. We can do it later.” She says. A muffled cry lingers behind as she heads to her room.
I feel guilty for whisking her away, but March has left me a bit tired. I try not relive the anguish of the moments that I experienced three years ago with my father’s death, but there’s no ducking them in this month.
The reminders come fast and unexpected.
We sit on the couch and my daughter, with her relentless chatter, says to me, “Momma, you know what I was talking about on the playground today?
I tell her no, assuming she would relay some story about how she spent her Spring Break at Disney or the beach.
Instead, right in the middle of nothing in particular, she says, “I talked about Nana (her name for my Dad). How he died. And how I remember I cried. And missed him.” There is a lightness in her tone as she says these words, but I take them seriously. She never talks about my father in such definite terms.
“Ok, honey.” That is all I can muster because I don’t want to say anything. Not because I don’t want to, but some days the finality of his passing even betrays me.
It’s another morning at the school and I hurry to drop off my daughter in her classroom. A mother stops to talk to me as I try to exit. She introduces herself and within five minutes reveals that she lost her father from brain cancer. I immediately feel for her loss and let her know. Part of me feels hurled into the grief in the center of it. I think, it is really stalking me. I am never going to leave it behind.
In the days of March, I’ve heard from friends who have stories that keep juggling in my head. About the husband who lost his wife suddenly to septic shock. About the woman who died at age 40 after learning she only had leukemia ten days ago. One of my relatives was also battling a possible cancer diagnosis the week of my father’s passing. The point is you can’t bargain with the grief. There will be reminders, expected and unexpected, at the most inconvenient times with your life.
I’ve learned you really have to sift out the grief with fine precision through the sieve. It’s unwanted. You can’t dwell on it all the time. There are also reminders of life and love and happiness.
And those happen also happen unexpectedly too. My daughter grabs me as I sip my coffee. It’s another day in March. She looks at me and says, “I want you to remember something.Pay attention Momma.”
She faces me and looks into my eyes and utters these words. “I love you Momma. Are you listening? Don’t ever forget it. I love you.”
I well up with tears in my eyes. And spell out to her, I l-o-v-e y-o-u too. I feel it. And she smiles back.
This is the landslide of love that I need to remember every March.