(A picture from my neighborhood one of the last weekends in March)
This time last week I was sitting outside by our community pool, working on my new book, allowing my pasty white body to come out of hibernation. Today my roses are covered with sheets, my heat is back on and my body, well, let’s just say I’m wearing socks again and grateful for the corduroy pajama pants I just bought on sale last week. Didn’t figure I’d see them until next December, but at least they’ve made the fall back to winter not quite as traumatic.
So, as I look out over the hill that sits outside my office window here in Franklin, Tennessee, the smoky white clouds have overlapped to such a point that even the sun can’t wedge its way through. Winter isn’t going without a fight. And as I was sitting here pondering this blog, drinking a McDonald’s coke, thinking I needed to turn the heat up another couple degrees I began to think of all the things that don’t like to leave easily.
I thought of the lines under my eyes that the magic cream was suppose to have gone or at least “greatly diminished” in six weeks, which are still mocking me every time I smile. It has me contemplating what life would be like if I never smiled again. There are always options. I thought of the broken vase that I see at the top of my kitchen cabinet every time I go to get a glass that I’ve planned on repairing for the last three years that still sits there broken and should have been thrown out three years earlier. I thought of the blue wash clothes that are shredded now on each of their four edges, but still do the trick of washing my face each night, even though I refuse to allow guests to see them. Those things that hang on.
And I can’t help but dig a little deeper. I know this is probably suppose to be more of a lighter place for us, but I can’t think of this without thinking of other things that try to hold onto us too, If I’m being honest it’s been kind of a winter season for my heart. It arrived brutally about this time last year, about the time spring was showing up, winter slammed into me with the brutality of a blizzard. Now, a year later, I’m glad to say there are a few things that wanted to hold on, dig in and not let go. But I just couldn’t allow winter to have the final word. I mean even Santa Claus gets out of the North Pole one night a year.
So, when bitterness wanted to rob my heart of the ability to think spring could ever return, I just tugged at it harder, until that day when my heart actually had its first moment of feeling alive again. When grief wanted to take up residence and move into the guest room, I made it upstairs first and locked the door and told him, he could only have his season. And when fear tried to attach itself to my hip, I just put on another pair of jeans. And with each moment of winter’s brave and valiant effort, my heart just fought harder. And now, a year later, even though I can’t see my roses outside my office window for the Ralph Lauren sheet that is lying on top of them, I can see the incremental healing of my heart. And I know that winter would have stayed as long as I would have allowed. Bitterness would have lived in the soul of me until I died if I would have spent this last year rehashing my moments of hurt. Grief could have me still under the covers if I wouldn’t have made myself get up and realize the world wasn’t going to stop and I could join it or be lost in it. And fear, oh, he’s a crafty one. He would have whispered in my ear for the rest of my life if I had given him one moment of acquiescence.
But I had living to do. I had spring to tend to and flowers to plant. And I had summer to enjoy and tan lines to acquire. And I even had fall to appreciate and its audacious display of color. And I had living to live. And now, with winter only a shadow that I can see up the street I know that it will come again. Winter seasons just do that. But it never has to stay longer than necessary, no matter how hard it fights. And I also know that the forecast for Thursday is sunny and 72 degrees. And sister will be out there by that pool letting her white body blind anyone it needs to because she’s got some living to do.
(My friend Ashley on the left and me on the right being fully alive.)
Denise Hildreth is the author of "The Will of Wisteria" where she makes her home in Franklin, Tennessee enjoying the hills outside her office window, being a mother to her two Shih-tzu's and drinking Coca-Cola.