I’ve always liked February. It’s a short month. And there’s more daylight at the end of it than there was when it started. Chicadees begin making that call “Phoebe, phoebe,” that says they’re thinking about nest building. The snow gradually relinquishes its hold on the roof of my house. There there are the birthdays: Lincoln’s followed by mine; Washington’s followed by my mother’s. And let’s not forget Valentine’s Day. Red hearts everywhere. Red flowers. Quite a lot of bad poetry sent from one person to another. Chocolates. Pink champagne.

This February, though, the hearts I’ve been thinking about have been human. Made of muscle instead of paper. Tenacious, gristly little pumps that miraculously lub-dub us through every minute of every hour of every day until, like all miracles, the reach an end.

This February I’ve been thinking about my writer friend, Mary Woodbury, whose heart stopped working its magic one afternoon just as the last streaks of pink light left the winter sky. It was peaceful, I’m told. She was reading a book. I hope it was a good one.

And this February I’ve been thinking about and working with my partner of nineteen years whose heart was stopped purposely by a surgeon, who then replaced his worn out aortic valve with a new one taken from a cow. Another miracle.

I don’t know what any of this means. I do know that February will never be quite the same for me again.

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