May Day

I sorry guys, I know you’re waiting for pictures of the Nashville and Lexington events, and I’ll get there. I will.

Today though, is May Day.

May Day is a fond holiday in this family. In fact, if you mention May Day to my mother, she will be happy to tell you (you likely won’t be able to stop her) that she was a May Queen. She may also give you some instructions on dancing a Maypole, or leaving a posy for a secret love, and she will undoubtedly lament the loss of this tradition in what is truly becoming an uncivilized world.

The winter is dark and long and, at least in this province, has a variable ending. April can be bitterly cold or wonderfully balmy (usually they alternate to try and crush your soul), but no matter how April goes, May the first will hold some promise of true, verdant warming spring. Tulips, buds and new leaves on trees, some wonderful hint of the beautiful summer to come. May Day is a wonderful celebration of youth and spring and promise.


It is also Janine’s birthday, a bonus that made May Day an occasion never overlooked in our family. She died in the Autumn, and it made so much sense that when she left, the world turned grey and the green went out of it and everything died or slept without her.

Suddenly today I find the sure and bright return of spring almost galling. How dare the planet continue without her, as though nothing has happened? How dare there still even be a May Day? I am almost ashamed to admit that somewhere inside, some childish, nonsensical part of myself may have thought that a May Day without Neen was impossible. That she would come back, like all of the roses and the tulips and the trees. It is not the shock of her death that I find overwhelming, but the permanence.


I know that grief is like this. With ebb and flow and good days and bad days, and that this first birthday we celebrate without her will be the one that stings the most, and that eventually I will be able to celebrate May Day and Janine with the joy that I used to. Today though, is not that day, and I’m going to be a little kind to myself. I’ll walk in the park. I’ll reconcile myself to the pussywillows. I’ll knit and watch the earth wake up and I’ll look for what comfort I can in the stunning way that no matter who leaves, Spring comes.


208 thoughts on “May Day

  1. May you feel her spirit with you today. And may you feel all the love and hugs from all of us who you touch with your humor and wit.

  2. Dear Stephanie, No one can ever truly be far when she is remembered with the depth of love you have for Janine. My you find peace in all that is green and growing,Blessed be, Constantina

  3. I’m sorry for memory of the loss of a wonderful friend on what should be such a happy day. Take extra-special care of yourself today, and you’ll be in our thoughts and prayers.

  4. Beautiful Flowers may fade but the memory of them never have to leave our minds…We keep them blooming in our hearts.

  5. Yes, grief *IS* like that. One day, the pain won’t be so raw, and on May Day, you’ll feel wistful and be able to smile as you remember Janine. Takes time, though. Healing takes time. Sounds like you have sensible expectations of yourself and the day. I hope you can enjoy some special memories today and cry any tears you need to cry.

  6. A sense of humor can help you tolerate the unpleasant, cope with the unexpected, overlook the unattractive and smile through the unbearable.
    You have a remarkable sense of humor Stephanie. Take today to smile and remember your dear friend.

  7. Today is my Dad’s birthday. He died just over 2 years ago, at 63, heart attack, no warning — just an awful phone call. I’ve been thinking of the holes in my life now that he is gone. I loved reading your description of Janine, and will think of her and you today too.

  8. Dear Stephanie
    All of us that experience grief understand the power of taking the time to agknoledge it, and like so many others, knitting gives me, among different things, time to embrace all the downs and ups that comes with it. Kniting has always been a healing part of my life and I gather, a part of yours.
    What we truly enjoy making gives us the strengh to go on, and like you said, eventually celebrate those anniversaries. I am getting there and so will you, in your own time.
    Am crossing my needles for you.

  9. Steph, she will live in your heart forever like my Mom lives in mine. That doesn’t make it any easier, but the love does continue.
    Prayers and hugs your way.
    Lin in Pittsburgh

  10. No loss is ordinary, and at 40 — a tragedy. My husband, a surgeon, used to prescribe tincture of time. You do, gradually, learn to live with it, accommodate it in your life. You never “get over it.” My thoughts and tears are with you today.

  11. Stephanie, I was in my garden last evening thinking about this very thing and wondering how you’re advancing the seasons without her – of course not knowing that today is her birthday. You’re in my thoughts and heart.

  12. P.S. You might consider lighting a Jahrzeit candle on the anniversary of her birth and/or death. A Jewish custom, it transcends any specific belief, I think; it’s a tangible reminder.

  13. Spring holds renewal. What was once gone returns in beauty, sometimes in a new form. She would not want you to grieve but rejoice in the return. Take some knitting in a quiet beautiful spot and thank her for the gift she has given you.

  14. Be kind to yourself today. The love and the longing never leave, although the pain lessens…wishing you warm memories to help fill the hole in your heart.

  15. My thoughts and heart go out to you today. Know that Janine is smiling down on you from heaven on this beautiful First of May and wishing you happiness with all her heart.

  16. Grief is such a sneaky thing. You can be fine one day and a complete mess the next. Honor today the way Janine would have expected.

  17. Ah Stephanie —
    My heart goes out to you as you continue to hurt from the loss. I share in your pain — although for my own loved one — my dear sweet dad that left us 3 years ago this month. He would have been 75 last week. The thing is — the pain never fully leaves — but the sharpness of it dulls over time and you find that you just go on.
    Thinking of you —

  18. You’re probably the kind of person/family who already does this, but you do something today that was one of Janine’s favorite things to do. Cook that favorite recipe, or dig in the yard, or dance in your underwear in your living room to her favorite music. For me, I’ve found an active remembrance is far more heartening than something a bit more sad and somber, and it makes me feel like I’m passing someone’s rememberance on to others. (end of lecture)
    Michele H.

  19. Dear Stephanie
    I’m a fairly recent de-lurker. And I feel compelled to respond to your pain today.
    Those firsts (first Christmas, first Birthday…) they are the worst. And you do get past them. Eventually. I know because my Dad died 8 days after his 56th birthday. There was no warning. That was 10 years ago. And I still miss him every day. But I’ve learned to smile and be happy and remember him with love and laughter. It helps.
    Know that you are loved and respected by many.
    I will keep you in my prayers.
    Big hugs

  20. Janine was a wonderful person in your life and naturally, you miss her. You have shared her with all of us who have read your blog. For that gift, we thank you. We send you some of that gift back in the form of hugs, kind thoughts, wishes for peace and healing. I hope you can feel our hugs, as well as Janine’s hugs, too. She would wish peace for you, more than anyone.
    With our respectful love.

  21. Condolences on your loss. I found your observation about the permenance of death to be particularly poignant.
    (And though I feel a bit of a cad for asking, do you have suggestions for making a posy? That sounds a lovely diversion for this rainy May Day.)

  22. My sympathies are with you today. Birthdays are tough. My mom passed 16 years ago. She’d be 53 this Thursday. They are always with us because they made us who we are.

  23. Grieving is somewhat like spring, just when you think the dark days are over, that bright green promise comes and reminds you that things will go on – not the same – different. But the new season will arrive and carry you along and ease your grief!

  24. Someone I still love died one January. I remember the feeling of despair and rage swelling inside me as new snow began to fall on snow that had fallen while she still lived, just the day before.
    These sharp pains that come in the first turn of seasons after a big loss are some of the cruellest in life. You have my sympathy.

  25. I’m thinking of you. A dear friend of mine died last night; and it doesn’t seem possible that today is full of sunshine and new things. Look after your dear self.

  26. I still find it pissy that life goes on without my Dad, and without your Neen. It’s not fair, but you have the right outlook. Look for things she would have noticed. Dance, as she would have done. And know that while you think of her, she will never really be gone.
    An eloquent post, as always.

  27. Sweet, I believe that the planet is not continuing without her as if nothing had happened, rather it is celebrating the wonder and beauty and joy that was your Neen by giving you back the ‘wonderful hint of the beautiful summer to come’ that meant so much to you both, especially on this day.
    Take your time. Feel everything you need to feel. Know that Janine will always be with you. Know that you are loved.

  28. I am humbled. Your words, though specific to your loss, ring clear and are applicable to the losses of others. Thank you for articulating what many feel so well.

  29. I understand what you are going through. I just lost my aunt a few weeks ago, but the seasons just keep going along. It may seem like they should stop, but that’s what makes this world so beautiful. It will get better with time, but grief this new is always hard to deal with. You’re in my prayers.

  30. Thank you for writing this post. When I see someone else kicking and screaming about the terrible permanence of death, it makes me feel like I’m part of humanity instead of that one weird woman who just can’t get over it.
    I’m going to go hang a maybasket full of lavender on my mom’s front door and then ring the bell and run and hide.

  31. Thank you for the gift of your words. Grief IS universal, and hurts. You give us images to see beyond the immediate pain, and the permission to live in it now.
    Hugs – we are all sitting with you in the park, knitting, weeping, and smiling in remembrance.

  32. Yesterday was the 9th anniversary of the day my mom died. I remember how warm it was that day and it seemed wrong that she should miss out on the season she loved so much. But now, it’s a comfort to notice the buds on the trees, the tulips coming out and the robins singing.
    It’s like she’s part of it all now and she’s reminding us to look around us and find some happiness in what we see and hear.
    All of the firsts are hard. So are some of the 2nds, 3rds and 9ths. You’ll get through it, even when you don’t want to, you will, somehow.

  33. Steph–You put into words how I feel on my Dad’s birthday in October. His favorite color was orange, so I think of him when I see pumpkins, leaves, flowers and how much he would have gotten a charge out of all these decorating shows featuring orange lately.
    All I can say is that it does get easier, you still miss your loved one just as much, but you can smile again at the things they loved.

  34. God Bless and keep you today, Stephanie.
    If it helps, I believe that those who go before are always near us. They are the warmth of the sun on our faces, the lilt of joy in the laughter of children, the soft wonder of a pussywillow just peeping from it’s bud, the whisper of the breeze stirring the newly green grass and the strength of a sprout breaking free from the hard packed earth. They are the fierce power of a storm and the howl of a frozen north wind. They are the overwhelming love and pride that wells up from within when we see our children. They are the sting of tears when we cry and curve of our lips when we smile. They are the hum in a spinning wheel and the soothing peace in the familiar click of needles and yarn becoming something beautiful.
    I will pray for peace in your grief.

  35. Your remembrance is so touching. I am glad you are home today with your family around you. We will hold warm thoughts for you and send positive energy.

  36. Stephanie,
    My heart aches for you and your loss. I am sorry that you lost your friend and it makes me sad that nothing I say or do will bring her back. Take it easy today and think about her. That is a great way to honor your friend.

  37. Reading your post made my heart ache for you. I’m so sorry for your loss. May Janine’s soul dance like the poppies in the warm spring breezes.

  38. Oh, Steph. It does come out of nowhere and whomp you upside the head, doesn’t it? And no amount of hugs, or logic, or love will make it subside till it’s ready. But hugs and love anyway (look for logic elsewhere, I’m afraid.) Willa Jean

  39. Celebrating the firsts of things after someone extraordinary in our lives has passed is hard indeed! May Janine’s presence perfume your day. Hugs and prayers for you and yours.

  40. First’s of anything without a loved one just ARE NOT RIGHT and NOTHING makes it right. Our loved ones that disappear from our lives take a little piece of our hearts with them so they can be close to us always. Think of her as you are doing , go talk to her in your park.She will listen. HUGS for you on this day Steph

  41. It’s okay, Steph–spring will wait for your heart to catch up.

  42. Not that it helps one whit, but I’m so sorry you lost Janine. From what you’ve written about her now and before, she was obviously quite a special person. Hugs!

  43. Thank you for putting into words the feeling that I share with you – my beloved friend Claire died two years ago, and the permanence of her being gone is a brutal reality that I still find hard to accept. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  44. My beautiful, sweet, intelligent stepdaughter loved butterflies and the color purple. Shortly after she died suddenly, I was shopping for a birthday card for a friend, and every other card had butterflies and something in purple on it. I ran out of the store in tears. Now everytime I see a butterfly, I smile with the memory of her, and sometimes think she’s come back to say hi. I’m now knitting a poncho with lots of butterflies on it, for a charming niece who also loves butterflies and thought my stepdaughter was a princess. It somehow seems fitting, and I know somewhere, Nadia is pleased.
    I hope that you will come to celebrate May Day and spring as a celebration of all that was so wonderful about Janine. It will come, I promise, but it’s ok and necessary to grieve.

  45. Thank you. It is my birthday too. But it is also a Spring for continuing to grieve and try to reconcile with the green growing things that someone so loved.

  46. The first is always, ALWAYS the hardest – and while many will say that with the passage of time, it will hurt less, it doesn’t. It just becomes more bearable, and the pain isn’t as searing, but it never, ever really goes away.
    This is for everyone who’s lost a loved one. And especially for you, dear Harlot – may next May Day find you with a bit less pain, and many, many more happy memories.

  47. Steph, many cyber-hugs are being sent your way today, and to your extended family. Grief hurts. Time takes the edge off. Think of Neen today … how joyous she is (albeit in another dimension) over the beginning of spring. Thanks for sharing your pain — it helps me to know that I am not alone.

  48. Janine was a light in your life….that is what made her so special to you. She would want you to smile and remember her as that light. Don’t be sad, celebrate her life, with joy and laughter and fond wonderful memories…she would like that.

  49. A poet who lived somewhat more south than you, once wrote that “April is the cruelest month” for the same reason. His words have stayed with me since high school — how DARE the world wake up without our loved ones? [I find it ironic that the poet is the very one you promised to avoid for a while].
    Here’s an excerpt from T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland”
    “April is the cruelest month, breeding
    Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
    Memory and desire, stirring
    Dull roots with spring rain.
    Winter kept us warm, covering
    Earth in forgetful snow,”
    I hope these words provide you some of the solace they have provided me — if only that of knowing that there are others who experience spring as, perhaps, a bit inappropriate.

  50. Of course it can’t be spring without her. She’s still around. I know it’s cliche, and her presence isn’t that warm vital body that you could hug and dance with, but she’s still around, cuz it wouldn’t be spring without her.

  51. Sometimes life is just really, really hard. A hug for you, Steph. Thinking of you and Janine, and of my best friend Ken who was killed by a drunk driver 2 1/2 years ago. I miss you, Ken. Man, I hate drunk drivers. I really, really hate drunk drivers.

  52. Oh, Stephanie.
    Your post brought tears to my eyes.
    We welcome a new daughter to our tribe today. I’ve been revelling in the joy of new life, and the auspicious date of her birth since I heard the news this morning.
    I can only hope she grows up to possess some of the wonderfulness of your Janine. I hope you can find some comfort today.

  53. I know and understand your loss. Smile at the world that gave you such a gift of a wonderful friend and a love for someone that will last forever.

  54. I don’t know whether to thank you, curse you or offer you my condolences. I should probably just shut up, but I never do what I should do. Thank you for reminding me of May Day. I recall as a child in Maine that we made tiny little May baskets for all the people we especially liked/loved and it truly was better to give than receive (the smiles of those receiving them was a wonderful gift in and of itself). It is a golden memory, seeing Nana’s face light up with a smile for me! I am so sorry about your loss of your beloved friend/relative, but you reminded me of the loss of my mother and its permanency and a still gaping hole in my life. Mother’s Day is particularly trying and it has been 8 years now. There is no book, no words of comfort that can really console; if there were, I would offer them to you and to myself as well.

  55. I know and understand your loss. Smile at the world that gave you such a gift of a wonderful friend and a love for someone that will last forever.

  56. Thinking warm green spring thoughts for you today. Janine sounds like a beautiful person, and I’m sorry for your loss.
    My mom’s birthday was in May. I’ve planted all her favorite flowers and lilacs in my yard. Every spring when they bloom, I can think of her and all the beauty still even in the world even though she’s not physically here with me any longer. She’s still in my heart, and she’s in those flowers too.

  57. you made me cry in Starbucks. I feel guilty that you have to go on a book tour and be funny when a big chunk of you is so sad.

  58. Eventually you’ll be able to celebrate your memories and conjure her presence. With all the cancer in our home and friendship circle, we have a really open policy about grief. If you see something that a recently passed friend would enjoy, say so and wish he were there to see it and laugh with you — honor the memory.
    It’s totally okay to burst into tears and spread your arms, and everyone in the family will crowd close and cling and rub your back in gentle circles until you come up for air. Pints of ice cream are eaten whole; trashy escapist Viking time travel romance novels are kept in reserve just in case (need one?). “Not now!” in a desperate voice will bring a teddy bear, blanket, and fond caress, then as much quiet time as you need, perhaps with infusions of Chinese take-out and hankies if it goes on for a while.
    If none of that works, try holding a baby.

  59. We lost my dad over 20 years ago (at the too young age of 55) in April. The hole that’s left in our lives will never be filled but the urgency of grief does fade. Now when spring comes, I remember his love of life rather than despairing for his loss. Your grief will fade in time also but she’ll live forever in your memories.
    I will not be dancing around a May pole this or any other year. A May pole is a fertility symbol and this baby maker is retired!

  60. It’s been said dozens of times by now, I’m sure, but we never really “get over it,” we just learn to live with it. You’re right to be good to yourself — not just today, but every day — if for no other reason than Janine would want you to.

  61. you write so beautifully, and you put into words what i felt but could not say when i lost my brother. thank you.

  62. Stephanie —
    I lost my grandmother in April eight years ago and I just wanted to let you know that the milestones (christmas, birthdays, etc) do get easier but there are still times that I think about telling her something I just saw/heard/experienced. The people that have a great presence in our lives are the ones that leave the biggest holes when they are gone. You will be in my thoughts today.

  63. Wow! The way you described May Day sounds lovely. Too bad we don’t celebrate it that way anymore. But since it’s MY birthday too, I’ll drink my first one
    to you and your friend, Janine. CHEERS! Knit on!

  64. I’m sorry. I know it’s sad and painful. I think on days like this sometimes the best thing to do is just, move through it and go for that walk in the greening world. My friend Christine died a few years ago on a beautiful spring day and I remember that on the morning of her death, I looked at the perfect blue sky and raged that the world was still there, without her. It seemed inconceivable to me. Now, a few years out, I still miss her, but the fact that there are still blue skies is a comfort.
    I’m sending you good thoughts.

  65. This poem is from an episode of Rugrats, and when I hear it, it always makes me cry.
    Though I must leave you behind me,
    this poem will tell you where you always can find me.
    When a gentle wind blows, that’s my hand on your face.
    And when the tree gives you shade, that’s my sheltering embrace.
    When the sun gives you freckles, that’s me tickling my boy.
    When the rain wets your hair, those are my tears of joy.
    When the long grass enfolds you, that’s me holding you tight.
    When the Whippoorwill sings, that’s me whispering, ‘Night night.’

  66. Stephanie,
    Hugs and tears go out to you today. I think today is the anniversary of my dad’s death. I know that sounds strange, but he had been dying by stages for a zillion years and the actually death was sad, but a relief. So now I think of him at odd times – when I notice the picture of him at the head of my bed; when sorting through stuff and coming accross his obituary; when listening to Bach on our wonderful church organ that he would have loved; or hearing music on the radio that he would have hated. Or looking at misspelled words in the newspaper. Then he comes back crisp and clear. Your post brought him back and my grandmother and others and I sat in tears at my computer at work. Take care of yourself today and think of the wonderful things you shared with Janine.

  67. Oh, my. “Something” last night made me go back to the very first of your blog entries I ever read, the one in which you let us know about the sudden loss of Janine, and then your first Christmas without her.
    Yes, the first birthday after such a loss is very, very hard. Later anniversaries will be hard, too. But as others have said, the pain does become softer with time.
    I wanted to let you know about a small thing that may make you smile. My big sister has lately taken up knitting what we call “Mash-Mashes,” basically squishy rectangles of garter-stitch knitting that our cats love to lie on and knead with their paws. She isn’t interested yet inanything except garter-stitch rectagles, but….
    Last night I was at her place crowing over my copy of Knitting Rules (which took FOREVER to ship!!!!) She picked it up, looked at the photo on the cover, and exclaimed, “Look, Stephanie is knitting garter stitch, JUST LIKE ME!”
    Instant bonding over the simplest of knitting. Can stockinette be far behind?
    Love, Barb in Texas

  68. Thankyou for writing this. I’ve been dwelling on the Easter-time death of my Great Aunt, and this and my knitting was a great comfort.
    Somehow, it’s easier to think of someone being gone when you aren’t surrounded by things they’d love.

  69. I remember when you posted the loss of your dear friend and how touched I was at the beautiful things you had to say about her.
    Springtime, for me, is like a “new birth” so to speak. New flowers bloom, new buds blossom, everything comes out to see the world. Maybe this is your friend’s way of saying ‘Hey you, I’m still here! Look what I have to show to let you know I’m still here and always thinking of you!’
    I hope you find the peace you need in your sorrows right now. Losing those you love is hard, no matter when the loss takes place.

  70. Oh Stephanie. The hug I would give if I could. May we all feel as deeply loved during our living lives as the feelings you’ve put into words here. People matter. The rest is just silly distractions.

  71. Thank you for your words Steph. We lost a very close friend to lung cancer on Feb. 8 this year and the thing that kept bugging me the most was that he was supposed to make it unitl spring. By dying in the dead of winter, he was being cheated out of one more thing on top of everything else – he didn’t get to see spring. Thanks for this post, and my tears, and for making Brian feel a little closer to me today, and for reminding me that it okay to be a *little* bit mad at buds.

  72. I am sorry again for your loss… it seems so appropriate to mourn the loss of those who passed in the fall and winter when spring comes, as the world comes alive again and new life reminds us that the world continues. For it to be Janine’s birthday makes it so much more poignant and it seems fitting that her birthday is on such a beautiful day. I’m sure that she is celebrating it in her special way. 🙂

  73. i also have a friend that passed away in the fall, but he was of the canine type. he was with me for half of my life. he passed on the day after my birthday. the grief is still fresh whenever i think upon it and how much i miss him. my birthday and my life will never be the same when i think of the juxtaposition of the two events.
    i like to think he knows that the permanence of his absence and the grief it brings only serve to encourage the love for him that still grows every day.

  74. Sorry for your loss.May Day is illustrated beautifully in Alison Uttley’s “Little Grey Rabbit” books .I grew up on them and that was a favourite .angie

  75. My mother died Dec 29,2005 from breast cancer and she is the first thing I think of when I wake every day. May is a sad month for me – who do I send my mother’s day card to? Who will snort and laugh with me when we talk about the day we called the Hallmark holiday? Also it is my birthday and I will miss the Clinique gift pack she always purchased for me as a “little something”! (silly, isn’t it?)

  76. Me again – as a first time post-er, my comment sounds callous when I read it over. Obviously my mom meant more to me than a Clinique gift pack but it was her little way of telling me she loved me. At 65…too young.

  77. I’ve been lurking around for months without a word, but your post today touched me, Stephanie. I lost my dad just five short weeks ago, and the spring has been difficult for me. He grew up on a farm, and taught all of us the love of dirt between our fingers and the wonder of making things grow. The spring was a wonderous time with him, and it’s painful to watch all of the beautiful flowers and trees springing back to life without him here to share it. I take some consolation in the thought that a bit of his spirit is in every new life. Whether a friend’s new baby or the return of the robins or the blooms of the pussy willows, I feel him near. Hugs to you today.

  78. I was just thinking – a few days ago – about ‘Neen and your loss of her. Moments like this (sharper grief) will ebb and flow – but yes, they’ll get less sharp. She’ll still always be a presence though – in your very being and thoughts. That part never stops.

  79. ….every year my kids and i deliver may baskets in the middle of the night…this year with everyone at college(one is finished but far away) and no one to share the fun with for the first time in 15 or so years, it seemed a little sad…but i did it anyway (20 baskets and finished at 4:49am)…. it makes me wonder how we are meant to cope with the changes in our lives….i lost a friend recently and spent today trying find a place for a memorial dinner..(not a great idea on so little sleep)i hate crying in front of people…if i were closer to you, geographically and as a friend rather than this weird one sided relationship that shared words creates, i’d ask to join you on your walk and bring one of our new angora bunnies(born easter sunday)for a cuddle…they do bring a bit of ease to a tired heart…kath

  80. Sheesh, that was raw, my thoughts are with you, in memoory of Douglas Edwin Rudert 2/14/1962 – 4/11/1992.

  81. Hugs and warms thoughts. Grief is always hard, but May is a month of promise and things will start to look up. And she will never be completely gone with all the love you hold for her.

  82. It’s lovely. Everything you said, and sharing it so that we all spend a moment of this busy day thinking about Janine and loved ones that we miss. I only hope that I am deserving of someone thinking this way about me someday.
    I’m off to spend an intentional few minutes with a cup of tea and my knitting in my yard watching the changes.

  83. the first’s are always the worst. First birthday, first aniversarry etc. We lost my FIL this time last year and we have just made our way through the last of them. They say it gets beter from here on in.

  84. May here is not a month of life renewed and hope, so it is sorta appropriate that Mayday last year was the day my father died.
    Hugs to you, Steph, for I hear your pain. It is hard to find words of comfort. Neen had always been there for you and Mayday will be a sad reminder. I wish you fond memories of the times you and Neen shared.

  85. Hugs, hugs, and more hugs. I know it doesn’t feel like it now, but it does get easier. There are still times that will knock you to the floor (my brother was taken by aids 10 1/2 years ago, and it still happens). It sounds counter-productive, but just go ahead and wallow in it today. I hope peace finds its way to you and your and her families today.

  86. My best friend, Anne, was also born on May 1. She left this world too soon, much as your Neen did. But you and I continue, Stephanie, and each of our friends lives on in us, seeing the spring through our eyes, loving the sounds of the birds, the peek-a-boo of the daffodils and tulips and the warming of the sun. You’ll carry her sunshine with you all the days of your life.
    Be brave, feel our compassion and hugs, and know we’re sharing a smile as we wipe our tears.

  87. Oh, Steph. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your grief. You know, who you ARE is all wrapped up in the people who have known you and grown with you over the years. In that way, Janine will always be with you and a part of you and your family. She was blessed to have such a caring, loving friend and sister in you. My prayers are with you.

  88. I’ll add another hug for you. It does get easier. It might not seem that way now but it does.
    Be good to yourself today.

  89. I am sorry for your loss. Janine is not really gone, as evidenced by this wonderful post about her. She is still there, in every flower bud, in every new leaf.
    It brings to mind the poem I included in Mom’s memorial brochure last september, “The Rose Still Grows Beyond the Wall”

  90. Hi Stephanie
    What else can I add…. but thinking of you today! It will get easier but sometimes it is nice to “feel” the loss a little in remembering!

  91. Oh, Steph. :hugs: That was beautifully written. I read this posting out loud to my husband and we both got teary – we just lost his father suddenly at the end of March, and weather-wise it was the nicest week we’d had this year. It was painfully ironic, and I think I can sort of understand how you’re feeling. – Amy

  92. Always remember that when a person leaves this life, a piece of them is kept alive by the people who remember them. Janine will always be with you and your family, especially on days like today.

  93. your entry today made me weep. the pain does not lessen, but very, very gradually it smacks you less frequently. take good care today.

  94. Love is greater than the sum of people who do the loving. Take care of yourself, with hugs

  95. ‘I thought that spring must last forevermore
    For I was young and loved, and it was May.’
    -Vera Brittain, English writer, poet, pacifist
    I know it hurts. Take care.

  96. My thoughts, my prayers are with you this day and always. Those that we love, those that love us, are always with us. A part of her lives in you, a part of you travels with her. Remember her job, her love, her smile.

  97. I have heard that the people we have lost, like my own wonderful brother Paul, are still a cloud of witnesses hovering around me, and sometimes that helps. There is so much life, and death, in nature and around me, and all I can do is be with it, trying to guess what the big picture might be, but accepting it as best I can.

  98. Many hugs, Steph. We have yellow finches hanging out eating thistle…I’ll send some up your way to brighten things. (And I agree with your Mum, this truly is becoming an uncivilized society…and quickly!)

  99. Stephanie,
    I understand all too well how you feel. One of my best friends died in the fall of my freshman year at college and I remember being so very upset when spring came and he wasn’t there. It was as you said, it just made sense that when he died, everything else would die or sleep as well. He was like spring to me and when I lost him I figured there just wouldn’t be a spring anymore. It took a long time for me to get over that. Now I just remember him even more fondly when the warmth comes back because I remember how much he warmed my soul and I find peace in those memories.

  100. So sorry for your loss. Sending loving thoughts to you and your family today.

  101. I’m pretty much just a lurker around here, but I am deeply sorry for your loss. I send my love to help you and your family get through this trying time.

  102. I think my problem is with the permanence of loss as well. When I lost my uncle (the first person really close to me to pass) I couldn’t understand how I would never see him again, how he would never meet my children, my husband. My daughter inherited his natural music ability, a fact that brings me joy and pain. To watch her is to see him. She was born a year later the same month he passed. Enjoy May Day for Janine and don’t feel bad about the pain sometimes they go hand in hand.

  103. thank you for this post, and sharing these thoughts with us.
    this week has many happy associations for me, but also one truely, truely unhappy one… and as the anniversary of a loved one’s death draws near, reading this made my eyes tear up, but also made me smile.
    It’s true that one day the reminder won’t hurt so much, but it’s good to remember that it’s okay to continue to grieve in their memory.

  104. Oh, Stephanie. Sending warm hugs and love. Like the rest commenting today, I know how you feel. Lost my dad 3 days before Christmas in ’88; my husband on Jan. 5th (5 days after my birthday) in ’98; and my mother a few days before her birthday in November ’02. The holidays, originally my favorite time of year, became the worst for quite a while. But though it does take a long time, even though you don’t lose the hurt, hopefully the memories become more important. I started thinking of them as pearls forming around a grain of sand. The biggest hurts eventually become the most precious pearls, because they have the most memories. We remember. And now *I’m* crying, for all of us, so will just wish that everyone can remember the pearls.

  105. Steph:
    Grief is cyclical, like life. My mom’s death still hurts, but in a different way than it did 4 years ago. You will heal, you will begin to feel better, you will even be able to smile again at memories of Janine. It takes time. The old axiom that “time heals all wounds” seems to be holding true for me. May you find peace, and love.

  106. Gentle hugs, dear friend. I am always touched at how you take the deepest feelings, and put them down so elegantly for us to read. I remember when you posted that Neen passed… and on this most bittersweet of days, I send up some prayers for your whole family.

  107. Sing out to spring. At least there WAS a Neen, so that you may rejoice and associate it with her. Pain and feeling bereft will go away eventually, but keep the positive connection at the forefront; it’ll help.
    I know.

  108. I’m sorry the anniversaries are renewing pain. I have railed against that permanence, that finality that death is. It’s so hard to wrap one’s brain around.

  109. Both my siblings died in the spring. At first I was so angry that there could be such beauty at a time of year that hurt me so much. But, now, 15 years after my sister died and a mere 3 after my brother died, I like to think that my beloved sibs thought that if they were going to leave me, they might as well leave me with flowers to smell, warm breezes to hug me and a beautiful blue sky to shelter me.
    Love is sometimes hard to see when loss gets in the way, but it’s always going to be there no matter whether you are with Janine or not.
    Be kind to yourself and knit on. Love, Amy

  110. cyber hugs and love go out to you from SW Washington – Janine is surely smiling down at you. I hope that you are able to put on an old album and dance a bit in her honor. Such a beautiful soul she has.

  111. May Day made you incredibly eloquent. And the photos were beautiful, too. Perhaps it was a gift of inspiration from Janine for you for her birthday.

  112. This may only help a little, but here’s a little circle of life moment. The recipient of my Knitting Olympics blanket was born today! A few weeks early, but all the better to see spring and be wrapped in a blanket that will probably mean more to me than to her.
    Thank you for sharing with us and take time to take care of yourself during all these whirlwind travels.

  113. Sadly, grief is something we as human beings share. Get hugs from your dear husband and children. Hundreds of us love you.

  114. My heart goes out to you. My dad died when I was young, and each year on his birthday and “anniversary” (a week a part), I seem to wait for something to happen, knowing that it never will. Sending hug-ful thoughts. Spring has come to celebrate the memory of your sister. I will too.

  115. My son’s birthday is Halloween. Each year we go to his grave, write special messages on balloons and release them. This coming birthday will be our fourth without him. Each is poignant and sweet and wistful and bitter as well. You loved her well and true. You were blessed.

  116. Here’s all the wonder and beauty of the universe to Janine, long may she live, and she does, in the hearts and minds of all who loved her, and because of you, Steph, in our hearts and minds as well.

  117. Having lost my “Janine” when we were 38…my thoughts go out to you today.
    May your healing continue and leave you with all the good memories.

  118. You’re beautiful inside and out, Stephanie. Your writing touches so many people – it’s a blessing to have your blog to read in the morning.
    Miss Janine, but see her in the new buds on the trees, the baby grass coming up, the unopened flowers and the piercing blue of a new spring sky. She’s with you in all these things. Big hugs to you today.

  119. My thoughts are with you. I think realizing the permanence of losing someone so close is one of the worst parts. I have someone I lost just over 10 years ago and I still feel that sometimes.

  120. Would that every person lived their life to be remembered like Janine is by you and yours and through you, by us.

  121. Oh, dear Steph. Huge hugs to you. I still go to pieces on my friend Simon’s birthday, and he died ten yars ago.
    I can only begin to hope that when I go, that I am remembered by others as you remember Janine.
    I know I can’t do anything to bring her back, but I =can= do one little thing. I am reading your blog on a short coffee break, and when I go back into the shelter kennels, I will find a yet-un-named dog or cat going up for adoption, and name her “Janine.” I have a feeling Janine would like that.

  122. Stephanie,
    Reading your post today, I allowed myself a moment to sob with you. I lost my sister 3 years ago. She was 36 and died suddenly as well. Grief is like a wave–and as I was reading I let that wave wash over me. What is so difficult is the big moments that these people are not there for; my oldest child will be graduating this month and going off to college. My sister loved my daughter so, and the realization that Bridget will not be there at my daughter’s graduation is painful indeed. There are no words; only love. So ride the wave my dear cyber friend—

  123. Hugs, Steph. You say so well how so many of us have felt. My SIL and nephew were killed in an accident years ago. I still miss her terribly, especially when the family is together & she’s not there. I hope happy memories will bring you some sunshine.
    Love, Yvonne

  124. Thinking of you today Stephanie. I remember reading the post you wrote when J. passed away and being very moved by it, as I am moved by this post as well. Our closest friends are our life’s blood, and even when they are not with us physically, they continue to pulse through us. Always.

  125. May you find comfort in the tulips and spring buds and all of the things that she loved. *hugs*

  126. {{{{HUGS}}} to you, Stephanie…I’m so sorry that Neen isn’t here anymore, in the tangible sense – her spirit is definately around you tho, and I’ll bet you could find a bit of her sparkle & love in the buds & flowers that are greeting you this May day.

  127. I know what you mean. I remember being in the mall a few weeks after my college boyfriend was killed and being very (irrationally) angry when I saw an elderly lady. I thought it was unfair that she should be alive and walking through the mall when my wonderful young man was dead. But the beauty of the spring will help you remember her beauty. It will get better.

  128. Wow, I went through the same thing the year after my mom died. She died in August 1999 quite suddenly, and when spring came it was like I had to admit the world would keep turning, seasons would keep changing. Thanks for sharing these thoughts.

  129. Stephanie,
    That was a truly beautiful and apt entry. I’m sorry for your loss, and hope you’ll find happiness this spring, also.

  130. Dear Stephanie…I hope this isn’t silly, to write to a stranger; I don’t know you – you don’t know me. I’m not sure how I ended up on your blog (but it’s a great one): must’ve been a link from another sock knitter’s blog. But I just want to say: I grieve for your untimely and agonizing loss. But then, death is rarely timely. “Wait, wait! Give me just one more day with my beloved!”
    Death is not beautiful, either. The loss of a beloved one isn’t beautiful. One does NOT “celebrate” the person’s life who was so rudely snatched away from us. It’s a struggle just to remember to BREATHE, because one has somehow forgotten how to do that simple thing. I remember quitting “breathing” after my Daddy died of a sudden heart attack. I don’t think I “breathed” for nearly 3 years. It hurt too badly. I remember feeling surprise and outrage when Spring came and birds were rejoicing. I wanted to ask them: “How DARE you? Don’t you KNOW that my Daddy is dead?”. Now I’m almost 50 and my heart still squeezes and my eyes well over.
    I haven’t “gotten over” his absence, and I don’t see why I should. One does not “get over” such things. One just learns to breathe again. To rediscover simple pleasures and joys. And one learns that it isn’t betraying the departed loved one, to enjoy what is left with all one’s heart. One learns…eventually…gratitude for what remains.
    God bless your hurting heart and make you whole again.

  131. Gertie;
    You did not have to be so caring and thoughtful, so generous and helpful, so gentle and loving, but you alway were. And I will always love you with all my heart.

  132. Gertie;
    You did not have to be so caring and thoughtful, so generous and helpful, so gentle and loving, but you alway were. And I will always love you with all my heart.

  133. Stephanie;
    I too have lost a great friend who was like my own family. I know how you must feel. You are coping with your loss with the help of people that care, and now you have one more me. I need to apologize to you for writting a message to give support to my friend’s son,on the eve of her Birthday. And also I wrote it twice please feel free to erase it, I would have done it except my computer skills are not that good.
    God Bless!

  134. There is another blog, Stephanie. It is on The Knitter Studios website. Go there and click on news. Tell your friends about it. I am trying to make more popular.

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  141. This is my father’s first birthday in heaven.Dad passed away july 8th 2006.I FEEL YOUR PAIN TO it is a feeling we all have to go through in life and we don’t know what it feels like untill it happens to us.God bless you all and may joy come back into all of are lives. From Darcy in Canada.Take care

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