A CRUEL MONTH
It's been another April of adversity in America. In his poem, "The Waste Land," T.S.Eliot writes, "April is the cruelest month." I know that Tax Day is always a pain, but for several years now completing tax forms has seemed like a walk in the park compared to tragedies that have occurred between April 15 and 20:
- The Branch Davidian fire (1993)
- Oklahoma City bombing (1995)
- Columbine massacre (1999)
- Virginia Tech massacre (2007)
- The BP oil spill (2010)
- Boston Marathon bombing (2013)
That's the national April cruelty. What about the more personal difficulties of this parTICular month? A neighbor's mother is dignosed with terminal cancer; my partner will lose the job she's had for 26 years; her car needs a major repair; she's tending to the vexing details of her mother's estate (her mother died in January); I may have arthritis in a knee joint; my washer broke; I really, really loathe Facebook because many friends my age or younger have already retired and I can't afford to, and they insist on posting about how great retirement is; and worse of all, I feel shitty to bitch about this, stupid, stupid stuff because I can still walk for crying out loud. My legs weren't blown off a week ago near a Finish Line.
But seriously, what gives? In April, lilacs and tulips bloom and Easter is typically celebrated. Isn't this supposed to be a time of new life, even resurrection? So why is April so cruel?
-- In bed under the covers until May
Get out of bed, for heaven's sake . . . and yours. No use hiding because one true way to despair is to refuse to have any kind of experience. Get up. Get going. Get living.
This is not to say that you aren't living. Seems to me that you are in a fairly deep way. For one thing, you've had the courage to maintain relationships with loved ones. You feel their pain. You care. You reach out. You are no Misfit.
That being said, April can be a cruel month. So can January, February, March, May, June . . . you get my point. Life is, indeed, hard, but as my favorite movie star, John Wayne, says, "It's even harder when you're stupid." And you, dear peahen, are not stupid.
But you specifically asked about cruelty in April which made me go back to letters I sent to my loved ones in the Aprils of my life. On April 6, 1957, I wrote to my dearest friend, "A" when she asked if I was going to do something for the Church, that it is always right to do something for the Church "even when it is a drop in the bucket." As you know, I have lupus that has crippled me to the point that I can't even kneel to say my prayers. But as I wrote to "A": "Every opportunity for performing any kind of charity is something to be snatched at" -- even during the cruel month of April. But you know this. You know that charity always trumps cruelty.
My sweet skylark, life ain't cheap. It costs everything, like faith does. Lots of folks think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is, in my opinion, the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe. If you feel you can't believe in the inherent goodness of God and life right now, you must at least do this: keep an open heart. Keep it open toward love and hope, keep wanting it, keep asking for it, and leave the rest to God. Know, too, that I will be praying for you, your partner and your neighbor's mother.
One more thing: lest you think all my April letters are high-falutin', on April 18, 1959, I wrote to "A" that Miss Gum Spirits of Turpentine had just been elected for the year. "This is an election I always wait for," I wrote. "They must hold it when the sap begins to run as I notice it every year about this time. The other one I look for is Miss North Georgia Chick."
Get out of bed, my Miss Mid-Atlantic Chick. Stand up. Breathe. Walk. Run. Kneel.
Your faithful friend all year round,
P.S. Perhaps you ought to ask some of your loved ones about the Aprils of their lives.