Miserable March (#336)

In The Wasteland of T.S. Eliot, April is the cruelest month.

In my world, it’s always March.

Once upon a time, March was the best month.

March was my birthday, back when birthdays were awesome (and even if they weren’t, I got cake). It was my mother’s favorite season, which always put her in a good mood. She’d exclaim over crocuses and forsythia while we flew kites. There was St. Patrick’s Day, on which you were allowed to pinch annoying siblings (biting would have been better, but I made do). Sometimes Easter occurred in March, which meant egg dyeing and chocolate bunny rabbits.

Back then, even the annual horror that is Daylight Saving Time didn’t occur until April.

I looked forward to March.

Until the March when our childhood playmate and close family friend was murdered. One of my baby sisters was born that same day, which meant that forgetting the anniversary of such a tragedy was impossible. (It also meant that there would forever be a pall over her special day. Sorry, kiddo.)

A few years later, my mother went to the ER at the end of February with a terrible headache. Several times. Her pain was dismissed by the male doctors…until she was unconscious and they figured out that it was an aneurysm. She spent March in the ICU; her heart rate went up any time her children visited, but she never regained consciousness. She died on the first day of spring.

Every March afterwards was a struggle. The death anniversary month weighed on my siblings and me, especially with all the happy March memories now tainted. Even emerging crocuses made us cry.

Bright yellow flowers on a shrub growing over a white clapboard house.
Such a cheery harbinger of doom. Photo from Village Soup, credit Lynnette L. Walthier

Don’t get me started on the fucking forsythia. Turns out it’s an invasive shrub that grows next to almost every goddamned road in D.C., Virginia, and Maryland. We couldn’t drive ANYWHERE in March without seeing the yellow blooms my mom loved and crying.

Amazingly, none of us crashed and died when sobbing while driving. March was undoubtedly bummed it didn’t get another notch in its belt.

Because March wasn’t content with two tragic anniversaries. March liked to pile on the misery.

Got rejected by a college? Must be March.

Got laid off? March.

Significant Other cheats on you? March.

Pet died? March.

My siblings and stopped referring to the month as “March.” The time between February and April has been “Fuckin’ March” for decades.

It wasn’t until I read the blog of Kate Crimmins that I realized other folks who lost parents young also have a designated “shit month” that they dread.

In some ways, it seems silly. Terrible events occur in other months (September 11th, anyone?).

My mother had A LOT of kids and we have A LOT of pets; they don’t ALL die in March.

Trump was elected in November and took office in January. He did awful things and lied about them DAILY.

These are the things I told myself two years ago, when my Doctor Sister (one year older) and Lawyer Sister (one year younger) convinced me that we should celebrate our big birthdays (ending in 0) with a joint trip around my birthday (because my birthday is in the middle). It was to be an epic trip at an exclusive resort.

In March. 2020.

Sorry, everyone.

Fuckin’ March happened with a vengeance that year.

This year?

Andy working on replacing the garage door opener.

We’re not even halfway through and so far our garage door has broken ($$) and we’ve learned that our old car is beyond repair (no one will even try, they can’t find replacement engine parts). Have you tried shopping for cars recently? Literally no electric or hybrid cars to be found and even used cars are $$$$$$.

I lost my battle with the city; they cut down all seven seventy-year-old trees that surrounded and shaded our house (along with hundreds of other old trees in the neighborhood). Our street looks barren and our house will be ungodly hot this summer.

Putin invaded Ukraine, setting off senseless tragedies and a humanitarian crisis.

And last week, my father told me that his mother had moved to hospice care.

She died last Friday.

My grandparents and I used to correspond regularly. I had the best summer of my life with her and my grandfather. But Granddad died years ago, followed by all their friends and bridge partners. Gram, over 100, outlived all her peers.

She loved books and keeping up on current events, but for the last two years, she could neither see well enough to read nor hear well enough to listen to audio books or TV. She was lucid less and less. When Gram did manage conversations, if anyone mentioned a future event she might enjoy, she’d give them her best you-are-an-idiot stare and snap, “For God’s sake, I hope by then I’m gone!”

Now it’s March and she is gone.

I hate this month.

But sometimes?

March is a mercy.

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

37 thoughts on “Miserable March (#336)”

  1. Well, I have another tragedy to add to your list in March… my dad passed away in March (today happens to be his anniversary).

    But man, compared to my one measly loss, you have had such a laundry list of tragedies happen in March! What a rough month for you Autumn… On the bright side, March is halfway over… so hopefully you’ll get some better luck in April. I try to cope with the tragedy of March by going hard on St. Patrick’s Day (I’m going all out this year, cooking corned beef and cabbage and got my Guinness ready). Hopefully that will bring a little joy into this crappy month.

    Anyway, you have another convert to join you in hating the month of March. Plus, it’s literally rained everyday this month in Portland (and will continue to do so), so… screw you, March!

    1. Oh, man, Mary! Welcome to the “Fuckin’ March” club. When my mom was in the ICU, the bleeding had stopped for a while and it seemed like she was recovering. Today is the anniversary of the day the bleeding began again, when we knew she probably wouldn’t make it. And all of March is littered with those anniversaries: her birthday, when it seemed like she was getting better, the day she started dying, the day my Exstepfather decided there was no hope, etc. I’m sorry that you have these anniversaries now, too. They’re the worst.

      March is goddamned asshole. But I hope St. Pat’s is super fun for you and your turn the misery corner. To April!

  2. To me, March is the Birthday Month: My older brother, five of my first cousins, at least one of my aunts, the first girl I fell in love with, the first girl I dated (different girl), one of my dearest friends from college, a bunch of my cousins’ kids, one of my godchildren, two sisters-in-law, a bunch of other friends, random close coworkers at each job I’ve been at long enough to know my coworkers’ birthdays… From the 15th on, I’ve got at least one birthday I can celebrate.

    Sending lots of hugs and positive vibes. When your birthday comes, celebrate yourself because you’re still here, and dammit you deserve it.

    1. It is birthday month, isn’t it?! Except it was also my mother’s birthday, so, well, crap.

      I really have grown to dislike my birthday. Or rather, making plans for my birthday. They always get upended, so now I just don’t plan anything and hunker down. If something nice happens, it’s a bonus surprise.

      1. You can celebrate yourself while you hunker down. Even if it’s just by making up a song called “I Am Awesome.” Because you are, you know.

        Sending more hugs just because.

        1. I am now going to be singing “Autumn is so awesome/ Autumn deserves cake and some homemade ice-cream …” to the tune of the “Everything Is Awesome” song from The Lego Movie.

  3. I’m so sorry about the loss of your mom, your grandmother (although how remarkable that she lived so long!), and the trees in your neighborhood 🙁 Also your picture made me miss forsythia — there’s nothing like it here.

    1. It’s a weed, LOL! Actually, it is super pretty, and one of the earliest signs of spring. I get why my mom loved it. And it’s easier since moving to the West Coast–we don’t have it here, either.

  4. Sounds like my January for sure. Both are long months with unpredictable sucky weather. the Ukraine war was already talked about in January. Will he or won’t he? Will he wait until after the Olympics? I’m avoiding the news because it’s hazardous to my health but I caught some last night. Guess what? Throughout the entire news cast there wasn’t a mention of covid. Can’t remember the last time that happened. Bad news replacing bad news. Hunker down. March is over in two weeks-ish.

    1. Yes, I’m totally hunkering down. My friends and family are all “it’s your birthday! Let’s plan something!” And I’m like, “Shhhh, no, pretend it’s not. No tempting fate!”

  5. What a long, sad March list you have. I’m sorry. I hope April will be better. By the way, why in the world did the city cut down your trees? That sounds crazy.

    For me, March is the least memorable month, kind of a nothing month, although I do like the thought of St. Patrick’s Day. Actually, I don’t keep track of the month people died. Wait. Now that I think of it, I do remember the month my husband died, but I don’t think of it as being any worse than any other month. He’s gone all year long.

    Speaking of cakes, today I ordered my groceries on pickup. When I unpacked the bags, I found that the little carrot cake I ordered wasn’t there. Out of stock. Maybe I’ll go pick one up tomorrow.

    1. You go get your cake, Nicki! Everyone needs cake in March.

      I don’t actually keep track of the months most people died, either. It certainly happens year round. But I think the trauma of losing a parent and a friend as an adolescent echoes throughout your lifetime. And maybe it gives teens and tweens a sense of control to assign the blame to one particular month. Maybe it’s a way of compartmentalizing bad things into one time period so the rest of the year is less terrifying.

    2. I forgot to explain the tree removal! The trees were owned by the city and planted in the 1950s. But the city didn’t spend the money to keep them trimmed and residents aren’t allowed to prune them without a whole permitting process. The trees grew, shady and beautiful…eventually lifting and breaking the concrete sidewalks into bumpy country roads.

      One of the reasons we loved/ bought this house was for the big trees that reminded me of the East Coast. I tried to save the smaller ones that hadn’t done sidewalk damage, but the city engineers insisted damage was “only a matter of time.” They will put in new trees in a few months, but instead of seven, there will only be two. And it will take years for them to achieve a canopy like we used to have.

  6. They do say, “Beware the ides of March.” Seems like maybe that’s a custom warning for you? I’m sorry to hear of all the bad things that have (and apparently still) happen to you this month. I feel like you may have written about this before, too. Maybe you should consider hibernating the month away?

    Why did the city cut down the trees?

    1. The trees were owned by the city and planted in the 1950s. But the city didn’t spend the money to keep them trimmed (residents aren’t allowed to prune them without a whole hellish permitting process). The trees grew, shady and beautiful…eventually lifting and breaking some of the concrete sidewalks.

      One of the reasons we loved/ bought this house was for the big trees that reminded me of the East Coast. I tried to save the smaller ones that hadn’t done sidewalk damage, but the city engineers insisted damage was “only a matter of time.” They will put in new trees in a few months, but instead of seven, there will only be two. And it will take years for them to achieve a canopy like we used to have. On the plus side, I’m supposedly allergic to those trees and I won’t have to sweep up their leaves all summer anymore?

  7. I’m sending virtual hugs to you as you deal with the misery that is March. Even though I didn’t lose my parents young, February is my “shit month”; Daddy died in February 2016, Mama in February 2017. The birth of twin grandbabies in February of this year helped take the edge off.

  8. Well this is all Sucky McSuckerton. I used to hate March but have shifted my distain to April just like T. S. Eliot. Still I’m sure you’ll get through this month with stories to tell, blog posts to write. Didn’t know forsythia was an invasive shrub. Around here few survive our soil and winters.

    1. I think the Mid Atlantic region is only just beginning to realize how invasive forsythia is. Apparently it’s super tough to get rid of.

      Yeah, not much for funny blog posts this month.

  9. I have complaints about my birthday month, but yours outdo mine by miles. Let me offer you a sneaky hug for all the shitty stuff which keeps on happening. It sounds like it’s become a thing where you feel the need to hibernate for the entire month just to avoid more shitty stuff happening. I have one of those triggers like your March, but it’s anytime I try to do something entirely selfishly for me. The dogs of hell get released I tell you. I vote you nominate another month for your official birthday – you know, like the Queen – and celebrate it with full pomp and pleasure then.

    1. Right? My chosen month would be October.

      Oh, how well I know the feeling of the fates noticing a woman planning a vacation/ massage/ etc. Doom–or at least a flat tire–awaits.

  10. What a terrible series of events happened around March. I guess you are on high alert now around mid-February onwards.
    Like you did, we tend to see patterns as humans. I am having a horror year and like you, the garage door broke and was just another reason to hate 2022. Just as you hate March. I realise there are good things happening this year, just as you do, but it is hard not to see the connection when the unfortunate events come in a series and pile up more than their usual randomness. Cutting down all those old trees must be madness. I hope they replant with something other than forsynthia! If they do, get the pruning shears out!
    I hope you can find a way to tolerate the remaining ten days.

    1. Thank you! I am good at hunkering down and enduring. It’s how I survived pregnancy.

      Looking out the window makes me sad. New trees will be planted eventually. But not until after March ends, I am sure. And I’ll be checking them obsessively to make sure they thrive.

  11. What a train of tragedies…particularly the childhood friend (how often does that happen?) I hate forsythia too (ugly weed) but the other spring flowers are nice and foretell of better days ahead. Look forward – April 1st is coming soon

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