I have really come to dislike February over the past few years. Yes, I know it's just another month on the calendar, and as months go, February is generally pretty inoffensive. In fact, since it's such a short month, it even goes by quickly. Most people don't seem to mind February too much.
And this year, as I flipped my calendar page, I determined that I was not going to let February get to me this year. I mean, after all, a lot of time has gone by! And it really IS just another month on the calendar!
And yet, I find myself feeling like a punching bag, hanging from the ceiling, swaying back and forth as one blow after another hits its mark.
You see, February is filled with dates I'd much rather forget than remember. I can't believe that it's been four years since Valentine's Day of 2008, the day our 16-year-old daughter, Hannah, began to show the first symptoms that something was very, very wrong. Then, four years ago today, we first heard the words, "Your daughter has a brain tumor." We checked into Arkansas Children's Hospital on the 21st, and Hannah underwent extensive brain surgery on February 25th. On the 26th, we heard the words, "We got it all!" and we thought that was going to be the end of our journey. A few days later we found out differently.
Between February of 2008 and February of 2009, Hannah bravely and patiently endured extensive radiation and chemotherapy treatments, but to no avail. By Valentine's Day of 2009, Hannah's mind had become very simple ... her short term memory was so damaged, she thanked her Daddy every few minutes for the roses he sent her that day. In the wee hours of the morning of February 16th, we discovered her hemorrhaging in her bedroom and rushed her to Arkansas Children's Hospital. She was quickly stabilized, but an MRI done that day revealed that her cancer had spread extensively. We moved into a hospice center on February 18th, an emotionally excruciating experience in and of itself. On February 26th, Hannah left her room at the hospice center and stepped directly into the waiting arms of Jesus. And we left the hospice center and went home without her.
Yes, they are just dates on the calendar, but the memories brought back by each and every one of them still feel like sucker punches directly to the gut. No ... It's not as painful as it was the first year or two ... and I'm thankful for that! Each day of this month, though, I find myself thinking back ... thinking about what we were thinking, feeling, and experiencing each day. Those carefree, blissful days before Valentine's Day of 2008, the terrifying, yet hope-filled days surrounding her surgery and recovery, and those heavy, heartbreaking days leading up to her death. I can't help but re-live each one of those days again.
So, all I can say is, "February...Ugh!" I'll be glad when yet another February is behind me.
Thank God that His mercies are new every morning! Check this out from Lamentations (how appropriate, huh?) 3: 17-26, 31-33...
"My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, 'My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.' Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in Him.' The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord .... For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though He cause grief, He will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love; for He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men."
There are some really good promises in that passage. Some things I definitely remember when February starts dragging me down. Thank You, Lord, for eternal hope that is not dependent upon circumstances!