Next Sunday is Christmas, as it happens – and the very darkest, longest night of the year is just a few days away. Indoors, we take our glow where we can find it – reflections in amber candle light, starbursts of petals and pine boughs giving back what they took from the sun on some warmer day in a far off place.
This time of year is crowded with emotional edges. Places you can’t back away from because the culture just won’t allow it. The ascending dark and cold carving out a season prone to introspection. We pass inevitably from grief for the old into a new, unwritten year, muddled with celebration and loneliness. Who wouldn’t feel like crying?
The afternoon was cold and beautifully blue, with almost no wind. Fluffy nests of snow piled in the branches of every tree. Overhead, puffs of pure white mingled clouds with snow and snow with clouds. If you were a kid, you would not want to come back inside until you were a snowman yourself.
I took my walk at the botanic gardens and stopped for a while next to the bench where Mom would sit to get back her energy. I could see her there so clearly – in her brown car coat, leaning on her cane, spine curled like a comma from the osteoporosis. She would have peered up at the pattern of the bare black twigs, listened for birds singing from the shelter of the thick arbor vitae, and marveled at the miracle of being out in the snow – a lost pleasure for her, because the specter of hidden ice made walking in winter so treacherous.
I could imagine her thin, soft hand in mine and hear what she would say. “Keep going toward the sunlight, honey. I’m okay where I am. I miss you.”