My coldest winter ever actually started in November. My Mom, the strongest woman I know, the woman who raised five kids on her own, who has battled Multiple Sclerosis for over thirty years, who turned seventy five last July, who has nine grandchildren and who has always taken care of me whenever I was in a crisis ranging from the flu to my scandal became seriously ill with a septic infection. My doctor advised me not to go see her in the hospital because of my own immune system, but I couldn’t stay away from my Mommy while she was ill. She’s always been there for me and I would be there for her. I took the long drive out to Suffolk County, where she now resides with one of my sisters and her family and in my bag I packed the bottle of Lourdes Water that she gave me when she found out I had cancer. My sister rubbed it on her wounded leg, but unlike the “magic” it seemed to work for me, she ended up needing two surgeries on her leg to remove the infected tissue. We had no idea if she would be home for Thanksgiving and being a single Mom dealing with my own illness, I only got to se her once in the hospital, where she stayed for three long weeks. Her recovery would be long and painful and she’s still not fully recovered, but she was home for Thanksgiving and that’s the last time I saw her. I think about her everyday and I know she’s in wonderful hands, but I’m scared. I don’t know what I would do without my Mommy. I don’t even…no…I can’t even think about it.
December was madness. I was broke, it was Christmas time and I have a Christmas baby. I had to plan her 5th birthday party, use my credit cards to purchase gifts, fought with my daughter’s father (we’re STILL married! Longest divorce ever!) about money every single day, decorate the apartment, schlep a tree into my tiny abode, send out birthday invitations and my Christmas cards (I never miss a year, though according to the ratio of the amount of greetings I sent out versus the amount I received, I think they might be going out of fashion–what a shame.) December wasn’t so cold temperature wise, but I just didn’t feel so jolly. I couldn’t wait until January. 2104. A new year, new beginnings, no resolutions, just hope.
My most sincere apologies to T.S. Elliot, but you’re wrong. January is the cruelest month. I can not remember a January as cold and miserable and snowy as the one that just passed. I’m talking sub-zero temperatures, blizzards once a week, cars iced into their parking spots for days. I’m truly trying to think about one good thing to say about this past January, and in all honesty–I can’t. Complete misery. Layers upon layers of clothing, hats, gloves, long johns, snow boots. Oh, how I want to burn my snow boots! Just throw them in a fire and watch them go up in flames. My apartment is old, so the radiators rattled, banged and finally started spraying boiling water all over my kitchen and bedroom. I still have the towels stuffed under the valves to protect my belongings from water destruction–and the worst part about it? You would think that mopping boiling water from your kitchen floor would leave it with a sparkling shine. Not true. The snow in New York is dirty. Trudging through my hallway into the kitchen wearing the boots I want to burn left them forever scarred. A reminder of the cruelest January I can remember.
February, in my mind, was a joy–only because it has twenty eight days and would make the winter months disappear into spring just a bit faster. I was wrong. Still freezing, still snowing still depressing. My daughter had an entire week off from school and, of course, I had to be a full time Mommy. I had no choice but to put off all of my doctor appointments until she went back to school and before I knew it, the symptoms of my cancer, which has been in remission since late September started coming back. I didn’t get to see my Oncologist until the last week of February and when my blood results came back, they weren’t very good. I’m anemic again and started iron infusions this past week. I have to get another PET scan to see if the cancer spread and there is a very good chance I may have to start treatment again. More waiting… But before I write February off as a complete disaster, there was one warm and wonderful day I will never forget. February 14th. Valentine’s Day. It was the best Valentine’s day of my life. I spent all morning into the mid afternoon underneath my warm covers with an amazing lover and all night with the love of my life. My daughter.
And now it’s March. Oh March, please be good to me. The month started out pretty well. My STILL husband and I signed our custody agreement–joint custody (meaning we make all major decisions about her school, religion, medical conditions etc. together) but I am her physical custodian. I remember just a few months ago, warring with her father and thisclose to giving him custody. But I pulled myself up by my foul winter boot straps and stayed strong. It means so much to me knowing that I won this battle and it’s not about the money he’s going to have to pay me for child support in addition to my alimony; it’s a victory. It’s a sign of my strength and my unending love for my daughter. I may never have another child again, but I have her and she makes me strong and happy and useful and loved. Watching her grow up into a little girl is the most beautiful experience I could ever imagine. I won! My cancer may be back, but with her love and excitement and growth, I gain the strength to keep fighting. Everything.
Today was a beautiful day in Brooklyn. Fifty degrees. No jackets required. Tomorrow will be sunny and forty one degrees. The snow is melting, leaving dirty puddles everywhere, but slowly, my coldest winter ever is coming to an end and Mr. Elliot, I can’t wait for April!