It's difficult to stay centered today. I'm being thrown off kilter by this day, out for revenge for so many warmly-lit, extravagant nights in Jacob's arms. In any case, the jealous lover I name as daylight rips me from Jacob's grasp and turns the sky grey in retaliation. A bitter foe of all things signifying comfort, he stalks me, a dangerous game I must now play of outrunning the rotation of the planet. My futile, bitter marathon begins anew.
It's snowing heavily. We could see the storm approaching from the west for hundreds of miles, something you learn to watch and wait for, living here on the flatlands. The wind has blown our corner the world into an ominous ball of ice, bare tree branches scratching their protest against the cold onto an unrelenting canvas of frigid air. The ground is frozen, impenetrable, and unforgiving underneath my boots.
This morning we rushed down the sidewalk, under those same bare branches and past the orange and black decorations clutching the outside of each house along our path. Our hats pulled low, mittens shoved hard into the bottom of pockets that failed to keep out the cold. It was the first day I walked the kids to school alone, and so on the way home I put my headphones on to listen to Snow Patrol, which usually cheers me, and walked slowly home. When I got to the end of the street I crossed the empty field that runs the length of the neighborhood and stood watching the sky, watching the morning freight train as it slowly wove around the perimeter of the city, names painted on the sides of the grain cars, a colorful rainbow of proof that we were here. A moment in time seized and celebrated. A simple tag succeeds in its attempt to add life to a monotonous line of black and brown tin cars rolling across this endless landscape.
Get up, get out, get away from these liars
Because they don't get your soul or your fire
Take my hand, knot your fingers through mine
And we'll walk from this dark room for the last time
Every minute from this minute now
We can do what we like anywhere
I want so much to open your eyes
Because I need you to look into mine
A brief pall of homesickness seized me then, for this will be the first winter here without Cole. Cole, who used to remind me that winter meant sports and Christmas and snowball fights and snowmen. Cole, who used to embrace the low temperatures and proclaim his hardiness, impervious to the plunging, ludicrous temperatures, hanging Christmas lights outside wearing a t-shirt and jeans. Cole who insisted we buy an electric blanket and who encouraged me to turn the heat up higher because he said he'd just work a little more to pay the higher gas bill. Cole who said the early darkness of the nights meant morning would come sooner and I believed him because it was all I had left.
For one moment that froze the bottom of my heart into a sheet of ice as thin as glass. I missed him desperately. Then the illusion of the glass was shattered and I was standing alone again, my destructive thoughts swept away by the gales. And Cole is still dead. Dead and gone, never to return. Kind of like last summer. Except next year there will be another summer but there will never be another Cole. Maybe time does work it's magic in keeping the good parts and blurring the bad ones. Time will answer that for me, just not yet. I'm not sure I'm done vilifying him inside my head, while my heart has softened to his memory and moved on.
I turned, pulling up my hood again, and walked back to our street, returning to the relative safety of the concrete sidewalk to walk under the branches that shelter my soul. Through the curtains I could see lights on inside the house, our imaginary protection against the bleakness of the winter season, and I went up the steps and into the porch. When I shrugged out of my coat I was greeted with a hot cup of coffee and an invitation to return to the arms of my Jacob, both of which I took with gratitude. Leading with my heart while my head tries to navigate its own version of a long cold winter.
There is so much to look forward to.