Monday, January 27, 2014

we turned the page on the calendar, and...

my hall closet is crammed with coats. black wool coats, long and short. crisp spring toppers, fleece jackets and thin, hooded parkas. so many coats between my husband and me that we hang them on top of each other so they'll fit snugly, waiting to be pulled out when we need them.

you would think we could put the lightweight jackets away to make room for our winter coverings. but in the first month of this new year, i have worn practically all of them, some days changing out coats by the hour from fleece to topper to wool.

last week temps hovered in the teens, so wool it was, along with long johns and muffs for the ears. by the weekend, rain moved in with humid warmth and even the hooded parka was too much. the next week, the fog lay so thick by my mailbox that i could hardly see the street, so the jacket it was. today it's 60 degrees. tomorrow they're calling for snow.

i don't remember a winter this fickle, yet when we turned the calendar to 2014, we found the weather to be a mirror for what the month would be.


art by @debucket
i was so ready to turn the page, (and yes, i still do use a paper calendar), to bring out my 2014 planner and mark the squares with all the good things to be: a. trip to paris. paris! family visits (and not in the hospital), a new fitness routine. i was so ready to leave last year behind with all its changes and losses and move full force into hope.

on new year's eve, my husband and i found ourselves 500 miles apart, he making his resolutions alone in a Hampton Inn in Paduca, Kentucky, and me out with friends sharing ours at one of our favorite restaurants. his aunt was in the hospital, and since she has no husband, no kids, no siblings left, he was the only one to see about her. pull on the wool and prepare for winter.

on my way to dinner that night, i checked in with my son and learned he'd had great news at work. i felt the sun breaking through the clouds. on the first day of the year, i planned my trip to Paris. on the second, my husband headed home in a blinding snow storm. wool again. by the weekend, the temps hovered near 75 degrees, and all was steady, no coat required. then good news again: Aunt Betty left the hospital, and our daughter shared her own work milestone. i found myself thinking, well, maybe we can put our winter buffers away.

on the fourth day, we opened our home to the family of the newest priest at our church — or he would become one the following day— welcoming them with a warm fire and hot soup, filling our house with laughter that seemed to have been absent for too long awhile. on the fifth day, we witnessed as priests surrounded him with the powerful laying on of hands. all warmth and bright sunlight, hope. 

on day 6 i had my annual mammogram, opting for the new digital kind, bracing myself for a minute discovery. but all was clear. on day 7, my great-niece celebrated her first birthday — steady winds and bright sun, little outerwear needed.

then on day 11, the wind shifted, and i felt myself pulling on my heaviest coat to brace for it: the dog and i hid in the hall bathroom as trees swayed and 65 mile-per-hour winds passed overhead. and just about that time (i later discovered) my boss was having a heart attack. he is 44 years old. day 13 brought triple bypass surgery for my friend, and hours of waiting and days of fear for wife, my friend, and his three young daughters. on day 14, a dear friend lost her husband, 66, to frontotemporal dementia. on yesterday we bid him farewell.

today the winds calmed. the sun came out. the boss's health has improved. things settled in the the family. 

yet my coworker said she was tired. last week her dog almost died, had to be raised up in an oxygen chamber at the vet school, and today she felt the pieces of january weighed her down like a giant wooden puzzle.

we are just about done with it. january. a month i have loved for its fresh start, for the fact that my son was born at the end of it. but i'm weary, too, from all that has happened to those around me. i know the fatigue, the sadness and fear that grips them.

so i long for snow, the makes-you-stay-put kind, the watch-the-world-transform-into-swirls-of-white-and-crystal kind, that finds you pulling on that wool you are so tired of and heading outside. to hold your sleeve out just-so, to watch the tiny iced-jewels — each of them their own sculpture — rest on your sleeve, to show you that despite all, hope is there. God. Is. There.




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