On January 1st I wrote, February will be my Light Box month. It’s typically a hard month for me because it’s the month my mom died, and as of 2010, the month my old friend Connecticut died. Usually, I let it sneak up on me and end up getting physically ill. This year I’m determined to face it head on by reading, writing, and blogging about grief, illness, and mortality.
Here it is, February 5, and I’ve hardly given it a passing thought. But I need to tackle it now. During the last two Februaries, I suffered from a combination of pneumonia and bronchitis that hashed my lungs, put me on inhalers, sent me for chest x-rays, drove me to the acupuncturist, and dragged on for about 6 weeks each year. Grief turned depression was the catalyst last year when my sweet cat Connecticut died of a lingering illness that reduced her to a skeleton. Needless to say, I would like to avoid major illness this year. Part of it will be luck in avoiding any bugs in public places. But a larger part will be looking ahead, accepting that it will be a hard month—and embracing the opportunities for reflection that it brings. Feb 13 (the day Connecticut died) and Feb 16 (the day my mom died) will be the toughest days and preparing for those days is a good idea.
Light Boxes, by Shane Jones, is a dark little book, with a quirky and unexpected play on language and characters. It exploits tensions: heaven versus earth, dead versus alive, reality versus fantasy and dreams, flying versus being grounded. The illustrations are morosely atmospheric. It’s good to know I’m not the only one with a war against February.
It’s weird what you can find online. Here’s a link to a picture of my mom’s headstone that somebody took. The site allows you to create an account and add photos, basic information, etc., but advertises a paid upgrade to “sponsor” the memorial and remove advertisements. Seems a little tacky, but I’m pretty sure mom doesn’t care. And, how else would I have a picture of her gravestone handy to post here? I’ve never really been one to hang out at mom’s grave site. There’s no her, there, if you know what I mean.