The End of January

Lindy Thibodaux
6 min readJan 31
My daughter, Valerie, and one of her favorite poems. She died one year ago today, after a very brief, very brave battle with cancer. (All photos and montage design by Lindy Thibodaux.)

31 January 2023

Dear Valerie,

I woke up very early this morning. When I looked at the time, 5:00 a.m., I realized it was only half an hour until the exact time that you took your last breath one year ago. Starting on December 29, 2021, when together we heard your devastating final-stage cancer diagnosis, the month that followed was utterly different than either of us had planned. It now seems impossible that I will ever be able to see the month of January with the same optimistic energy I used to feel at the start of every new year.

January of 2022 was supposed to be a sort of sabbatical month for me; I planned several months in advance to put my freelance client work on hold, and I dedicated that month to developing my own work, including a new YouTube channel. (I’m rolling my eyes ironically as I write that now. The best-laid plans…)

Instead, that January turned into taking you to a continual round of medical appointments and tests, driving from store to store trying to find things that would make you more comfortable, and, during that final week when you were in the hospital, racing back and forth between spending time with you and getting home briefly to take care of your cat.

What a contrast to the January we had looked forward to during December.

At this moment, it’s difficult to identify a single thing that’s the same as it was before you died. That’s how I think of everything now: divided into “before” and “after”. You and I both loved many of those transformational, big-dramatic-reveal TV shows, but for me, this past year has been like one long makeover that I never wanted, but can’t avoid. I will never be the same.

Everything is different. It’s like I’m starting life completely over, but with no idea at all what that life will be, what it will feel like to go on without you, how I can somehow merge all the complicated aspects of this experience of losing you into a new me…

Here’s something I’ve been wondering: If you were to show up at my door today (and oh, how I wish you could), what would surprise you the most about how I’ve spent this year?

ONE. I have spent the vast majority of this time completely alone. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen anyone I know…

Lindy Thibodaux

Writes about the transformative power of color. Designs. Plays piano, speaks French, dances Argentine tango. Loves.