February has never been my favorite month. Other than my dad's birthday, there really hasn't been anything in February that I have enjoyed. Valentine's Day might be nice if they didn't set out those boxes of candy on January 1, thus confirming it's all about the cash and has actually little to do with appreciating your significant other. Also, February in Florida is generally the coldest and harshest month. I am a native Floridian and am still here for a reason. I hate being cold. Hate it. Anything below 70 just makes me grumpy. So, when February comes blowing through with winds that make it feel like 40, I am pretty crabby about it. A sweater AND a jacket? Closed toed shoes? Arg!!!! I just want February to be over so March can warm me up.
Two years ago, February gave me yet another reason to hate it. It stole my child from me. February will always be the month Kenley died. It will always be the month where everything I was was swept away, where I was broken down into nothing, and where I had to relearn how to live in a world without my daughter.
This year, February hit, and I didn't notice right away because I was so wrapped up in getting the Heartbroken Mother video finished. After I had finalized the changes, uploaded it to Youtube, and breathed a huge sigh of relief, February sucker punched me in the gut. I watched the final video as a Heartbroken Mother instead of a critical video maker, and I just fell apart. All those babies. All those mothers. Each of them with a February of their own. And then, as the video closes, my beautiful Ninja shows her face, and I see the reason behind it all. The reason February is so soul crushing for me.
There's a weird haze I walk around in during this month. A fog that clouds everything except for one thing: a countdown. That countdown is all I can see. Today is February 10th. That means that I had 14 days left with her. 14 days of being blissfully unaware that she was tangling herself in her cord. 14 days of excitement and expectations. 14 more days to organize her nursery, to make plans for her, to imagine her birthday. Tomorrow, it will be 13. Then 12...11...10....all counting down to the day where I lost her forever. To the day where the life I thought I had turned itself into a cruel and twisted reality.
It's difficult to pull myself out of this fog during these days. It's hard to ignore that countdown, which ticks in my ear, loud and looming. Every day closer to the 25th is one day closer to the worst day of my life. How do you go about your day normally when you're inevitably taking steps towards heartbreak?
I try to remember the flipside of February. It's Kenley's birthday. She deserves a birthday. She deserves to be celebrated. She deserves to be thought of with joy and love, and not just sorrow and anger. So, I try to plan events which make me think of her with happiness. I try to plan things where my heart feels full instead of impossibly empty. Last year, my wonderful photographer friend, Jeanee James, took family photos of us on Kenley's birthday by her tree and then we all went out to dinner. This year, in addition to continuing our picture tradition, I plan on making a bear at Build a Bear and inserting a heart on which I have recorded her heartbeat. I will give the bear to Piper on her first birthday in April as a way of bringing my two girls together. Thinking about doing that makes me excited for the day as opposed to filling me with dread. I think that is the key with these types of birthdays. It's important to plan something that honors your baby, but is also something you can enjoy doing.
Regardless of how I am looking forward to taking pictures and making a bear, I still don't want February 25th to come. I still don't want to countdown every day until that day. Giving that day purpose does not really distract me from the reason I have to search for meaning in the first place. Kenley should be turning two. She should be running around in a new outfit and pigtails. She should be getting a tricycle for her birthday and singing "Let it Go" at the top of her lungs. But, she's not. Instead of planning a party with gifts and guests, I am planning a way to remember her. Instead of organizing toddler party games, I am organizing a day full of "meaning" so I don't fall apart. There is no way that anything will make this okay. And this is only year two.