January and February were the last two months added to the Roman Calendar. But February has taken some aggressive steps to establish itself as the most peculiar, perplexing and powerful of the twelve siblings. No one’s claimed responsibility for the decision to pronounce it without acknowledging the first “r” and simply refer to it as Febuary vs February.

Occupying a mere 28 days or 7.7% of each year, it is the only month to have a length of fewer than thirty days. Then every fourth year, it aggressively leaps, adding another day to abruptly make 365, 366. For three years, it complicates birthday celebrations for those hapless souls born during one of its comet-like calendar rendezvous. It performs this “sleight of hand” feat nonchalantly without compromising its title as the shortest month of the year. No one can deny that compared to its peers, February is uniquely unique.

At the end of January, some not so fond memories of near-death encounters within it, anatomically and impulsively place my senses on high alert. Igniting subtle, but fact-based emotions about the dominant role February has played throughout my adult life. In the past 14 years, all four of my life’s most pivotal medical and personal growth experiences occurred during one of its brief annual appearances.

In 2008, on the 19th, I underwent a lifesaving craniotomy at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and was ultimately diagnosed with an extremely rare autoimmune disorder. A new something now dormant within me for the rest of my life, leaving a quarter size hole as a poignant timestamp.

In 2019, on the 4th, after losing 22 pounds in less than a month and spiking a 104 temperature during an emergency doctor’s appointment. I was immediately admitted to St. David’s Medical Center in North Austin with a severe case of bronchial pneumonia. I was blessed again with the precious gift of time, alone with myself.

In 2021, on the 16th, after a 5-week infusion treatment delay and the subsequent reactivation of my something. I was rushed to the ER and admitted at St. David’s Medical Center in South Austin for an emergency 3,000 mg steroid infusion to reestablish remission. Eight days later on the 24th, I underwent emergency retinal reattachment surgery at St. David Medical Center in Central Austin in an attempt to restore the vision in my left eye. The final outcome of optical restoration, still pending.

Good or bad, blessing or curse, February’s transgressions have left some internal and visible battle scars. Because of February, I am wiser, more grateful, and more reflective about life and the February’s that lie ahead. A new inner strength seems to evolve within me and helps illuminate a bright and confident path through “The Shadows of February”.

About the Author Michael K. Francis

Michael is a C-Suite Business and Human Resources Executive with more than 30 years of professional experience in the public sector with four Fortune 500 companies, and as a Management Consultant. In 2020, he founded BEAM Executive Advisors, LLC to provide consultative services to clients based on collaborative relationships, trust, and integrity.

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