Cruel and Beautiful

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, feeding
A little life…

–from The Waste Land
T.S. Eliot

I never believed April was cruel. I have always loved the month hovering between winter and spring. The trees mostly still winter bare, yet the grass growing, turning unimaginably green, and flowers of all colors rising out of the ground, small bursts of surprise, delighting both eye and nose.

I was born in April and some years my birthday was warm, blustery wind-chime weather; other years were white with snow. April is unpredictable, yet predictable in its instability. My son was born in April. My daughter-in-law too. Many of my dearest friends were also born in this month of edges, great beauty, twists and turns. There is an energy to April for which I yearn.

A year ago, my son died in April.

How can we bear to lose who and what we love in the midst of such abundance?


Last year, on the day we buried my son, it was one of those perfect April days. This year too when I went to place flowers on his grave, the sun shone, tulips and daffodils raised their bright faces to the breeze. Two men stood in hip boots in the rushing river nearby pulling fish glistening from the cold water.

I cried, and talked to him. I pulled out a notebook, tore a page from it, and wrote a letter. None of this is fair, I said. How can you be gone? How can I see all of this and you cannot?

A voice came to me. Look up. Look up.

A cloudless sky. Bright sun.

A friend wrote to say she was amazed I still saw beauty in the world. But it is there, undeniably, though I wish sometimes to deny it.

Like the month of April, our paths are unpredictable. Some days I am up, and some days I am down, down, down. But I do not want to live a small life. I will keep yearning for April. I will remember to look up to find the blue sky.

And I will keep writing it all down, the good and the hard, because that too is a beautiful thing.

5 Responses to “Cruel and Beautiful”

  1. Cindy Zelman says:

    Very beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  2. You have changed my April perspective forever! Cathy, your writing is God’s gift. I Hope I never take His many blessings for granted.

  3. Your courage never fails to inspire me…thank you for sharing your path ~ the pain and the blue skies, the yearning and the men in hip boots.

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