January with a Difference

January 9, 2014

Every January is an emotional minefield for Alice and me with several family birthdays and death days, some of them coinciding. I wrote about this last year in a post called January. This year, my cousin and Alice’s nephew, Craig, died on January 2nd, the same date my brother, Bruce, died.

Bruce and Craig were more like brothers than cousins, and Bruce’s death by suicide at nineteen was, Craig would probably say, the greatest tragedy in his life, an honest, kind, full, and well-lived life otherwise. (His mother was Alice’s sister, LaRue, the sister who once danced with Lawrence Welk when he was just a boy from a farm down the road and showed up at their little Dakota town to play his accordion.)



As we all know, it doesn’t get any easier to mourn people just because they’ve gotten older and died. In some ways, it’s harder. Someone who has always been there, always, is suddenly gone. And so we mourn Craig.

Thanks to Facebook of all things, I am meeting January and its attendant griefs, old and new, in a different way. I now have a god-daughter (and she’s a writer at that). Her name is Anna. We connected on that virtual field of randomness and have  grown very close. Anna understood my January sorrows, and this year she is sending me gifts for each and every January day. Today I opened my front door and found:

Flowers from Anna

Flowers from Anna

This generous, warm, compassionate, down-to earth, feisty, smart, feminist woman is a powerfully loving force now burning in my corner.

You just never know what wishes this chaotic universe will grant – the best seem to be the ones you didn’t even know you had. Much love and many thanks to you, Anna.

I hope light comes shining in to all of you who are finding these winter months tough for one reason or another – loss or dashed hopes or brutal cold or anything else that might be hurting you. We’re all in it alone together. And maybe (for all we know, which is practically nothing) even the ones we’ve lost aren’t that far away.

20 Responses to “January with a Difference”

  1. Cheryl Says:

    Blessed be, Anna. I love her for loving you in this way, Andrea. It was enough with the one gift for each day in a box in your houseboat – but this day of flowers! That just brings tears to my eyes, it is so gracious.


  2. Bonnie Babcock Says:

    Bless Anna for shining light and beauty on a difficult month! You have NICE friends!


  3. Mary Moon Says:

    Yes. And blessings show up when we least expect them.


  4. Holly Says:

    Always amazing, this world that taketh and giveth in such profound ways. Wishing you and us all at the very least a balance between the two. RIP Bruce and Craig. And 31 days of cheers for Anna!


  5. Heide Hendrick Says:

    Beautiful ~


  6. Vanessa Says:

    Thank you once again Andrea for your poignant reflections that touch me so much. I am sorry for the loss of your cousin and for all the losses we have all had. I have been really missing my parents and TJ. I love you


    • Vanessa, I thought of TJ at one point when I was writing this. All those of us who have been close to anyone who has died by suicide will know that even the mention of the word pulls us back into that spiral of pain and confusion. It’s hard to detach from it, maybe never even possible. I’m sending you my love.


  7. the Bible says “…blessed to be a blessing”. It sounds like your cousin was a blessing and now you have friends who honor that memory for you by being new blessings in your life. Your life is full of good friends.


    • I gave my dog Boon his name because one of its meanings is “good fortune” or “blessing.” I do think of all my friends this way, and feel fortunate that you and I have reconnected too, Judith, after all these years. Another circle of friendship. Unbroken.


  8. Anna March Says:

    big sweet kisses to you, god mama. sweet of you to write about this — and such generous words! very kind, as always. i am happy if your “january box + etc” takes away just one bit of sad and dark for you. just one bit. also –i loved tucking things away for you and thinking “oh yes, must get this for the “box” as time went by…………i also loved passing along a couple of things that belonged to me (which i don’t think you’ve come to, yet.) thanks, too, to all of the commenting folks here who said such sweet things to/about me — very sweet of you all. big love to all of you — we’re going to get through this winter stuff, we are, we are. xoxo


    • Thank you for this, Sondra. Nice of them to find it valuable and worthwhile for the state to own (despite the snide comments about basketball players, etc.) Really, ND had better step up and claim something good, given the fracking and all. Have you seen a satellite photo of the state at night? The lights on in western ND rival New York and London.


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