Today, after unseasonably warm temperatures, we are supposed to get snow. It’s been the topic of conversation with more than a few people this afternoon. It seems I’m the only one who is happy the weather is turning more wintry.
Michigan is a state that is fortunate to see all four seasons. Spring is glorious with life bursting forth across the land. The summers are brilliantly sunlit and the air is sweet. Nearly every road is aglow with the fiery red and orange canopies overhead at the height of autumn. In winter, a soft blanket of snow settles on everything and the world is quiet.
I like winter in Michigan much more than any other season. Not because I partake of the many winter activities around me. I don’t. Instead, it’s because I don’t feel obligated to be out of my house and interacting in life. Somehow, the brightness of the sun, so beautiful before I lost my daughter, is painful to my eyes. The laughing crowds at the beach are difficult to listen to when your world has fallen silent. During the summer I feel like I am failing at life because I don’t participate like everybody else does.
Winter is more understanding. The world is asleep. Both plants and animals are in hibernation waiting for the thaw. It’s the same for bereaved moms. Our world is frozen. We wait for a thaw that may never come. Winter is the landscape of our emotions and many of us are comfortable here. I am.
When my children were younger I loved snow days. We’d all be at home together. Hot cocoa. Board games. Blanket tents. These were my favorite days. Snow days now are just as loved but for a very different reason. I can be alone with my sorrow. There is no shame in having a day full of tears. No one looks at me with pity or disgust. I can be truthful to who and what I am. A grieving mother with a broken heart.
The winter my daughter was killed I drove to Lake Michigan often. There were few cars in the parking lot, if any, and I could walk the beach without seeing another soul. The water roared. The bare tree branches were black against the gray sky. What I remember most is the painful scream of the seagulls floating over my head. I could feel my torment escaping my body through their cries. I belonged there amid the frozen things.
I’m not as frozen anymore. The thaw I was waiting for has begun. Pieces of myself have started to shift back into place. It’s going to be a slow process. But the process has begun.
I think I’ll always love winter the most, though.