On Wednesday, he stood at the back door letting the cold air flow in around him. When I asked him what he was doing he told me that it smelled like snow was coming. I stood beside him and took a deep breath. He was right. The air smelled like snow. I asked him when he thought it would get here. He said he thought it would be late the next night. It's been almost two years since snow was in the air.
It rained sheets all day on Thursday. Heavy, dark rain. Cold and biting, it ran down the sleeves of my rain coat into my pockets. When I got home I asked him if he still thought it would snow. In a disappointed voice he said yes, but admitted that it wouldn't stick. The rain was cold but the ground too damp. He went to bed soul heavy. He needs the snow as much as I do.
I had some late night work, so I left the blinds open and watched. Around 10:30 it started. Big, white squares. I woke him gently so that he could see it. I tried to wake the girls as well, but they were far away in Neverland or Wonderland or Oz, or some other place, far away in the imaginary depths of dreams. So we left them to dream of snow while we let the real flakes fall on our heads until we had hair that was fairy white.
He walked slowly around the yard like an old man with heavy steps. Visible breath the only clear sign of a face beneath his hood. Even though I couldn't see him, I knew he was smiling. Face upturned I let the coldness wash over me with the cleansing purity that only snow can bring. Eventually our fingers were numb and our smiles frozen in place, so we met back in the doorway, watching it fall until it stopped.
Thirty minutes and it was gone. A few mounds of frozen white remained as witness to our late night meditation. We both knew that by morning little would remain. We closed the door wondering if it had all been a dream. Were we too in Wonderland?
As he started back up the stairs to bed he turned and said, if it doesn't snow here this year, let's move. Alright, son. And why not? People leave for lesser reasons than snow.
Eight years ago today, I was sitting in a sterile white hospital room in Lexington, Virginia. Having recently moved to this small, middle of nowhere town, I barely knew anyone and all family was far away. I was one of two women on the maternity floor waiting to give birth that day. I remember that fact for two reasons. One, the nurses were especially attentive that day, something I couldn't say of my first two births. And two, it was quiet. Too quiet. The kind of quiet that makes you want to turn on the television just so you don't feel alone in the room. Though soon enough the room was a bustle of activity. It wasn't a long birth like my previous two. This baby was ready to come out and meet the world. Those attentive nurses wrapped the screaming, pink bundle in a warm receiving blanket and handed her back to me. As I held my daughter for the first time, I remember that the room grew quiet again. I'm sure that this time it wasn't. I'm sure that there were all of the sounds of a birth room buzzing around me, but all I remember is the quiet. This was a different kind of quiet. This was the kind of quiet that is filled with peace. The kind of quiet where the world melts away and all you know is that moment. As I held this tiny creature in my arms, all I knew was her. In those two seconds of pure quiet a bond was formed between mother and child. One that can never be broken. She is born straight from my heart.
As the years have passed, that tiny bundle of pink has grown up into a beautiful girl. She is full of energy and spunk. She possess a wild freedom and self assurance that is tempered only by her genuine compassion. We were recently walking around our small downtown hoping to see the ice sculptures that had been installed earlier in the day. When we got there we discovered a group of teenagers destroying the sculptures for their own twisted fun. Both of my daughters were upset, but this youngest one cried big tears and became filled with a fierce anger at the injustice. She wasn't angry that she couldn't see the sculptures. She was angry that one person would destroy another person's hard work. She cried for the artist. This is who she is. She cries in righteous anger one day and laughs with mischief the next. She is a true sprite. A force of magic in this world. Her eyes twinkle with it. From day one, she has had the ability to make my world stop in an instant. Those magic eyes can look straight through me and warm my heart. She takes her name from an island in the sun. She is an island of sun. Bright star. Sicily.
Legend has it that late last night, a brave group embarked on an epic adventure to change their fate. At the Queen's request, they had accepted the invitation to celebrate the birthday of the beautiful princess.
After the castle was decorated and a feast prepared, the eager princess awaited each guest's arrival. As darkness fell on the grounds of the Scottish castle, the will o' the wisps led the way to the castle door, lest the guests lose their way.
A wild group of princesses they were! All brave and strong. They donned their crowns and wore their clan tartans with pride!
Once all of the guests had arrived, the adventure began. The will o' the wisps led them on a journey high and low in search of their destiny, leaving clues for them along the path.
The last clue read, "In the dark forests of Scotland lurks danger and magic. You must take up a bow to defend your friends from the danger hiding behind the castle. It is your destiny!" So the brave princesses armed themselves with bow and arrow and ran to the backyard to fight the demon bear Mor'du.
After successfully defeating Mor'du, they promptly celebrated with cake and feasting!
Such adventure is tiring for even the bravest girl, so they all changed into their pajamas and snuggled in close to watch Brave Merida change her fate and discovery her own destiny.
But this legend is more than a story. "All legends are lessons. They ring with truth."* This tale is no different. The truth is that these girls are brave and strong, wild and free. And they "will shoot for their own hand."* Their destiny is theirs to discover. (With the help of a little magic along the way, of course.)
This has been a very full year. A year full of growing. It has been an interest seeking year. A strength building year. A year of self discovery. Self discovery.
The smallest sprite turned seven. She grew in strength and beauty. She learned to do the perfect cartwheel and achieved near perfect balance. She finished first grade and began second. She discovered a love for Scotland thanks to a fiery new princess that fits her personality more than any other. And she finally beat her brother at a video game.
The middle one found her stage. She discovered she loves bright lights and back stage friendships. She got a part in her first small cast production and that changed everything. All told she performed in three plays and several self directed living room productions. She turned nine this year. She grew in confidence and beauty. She finished third grade and began fourth. She made an entire tea set out of clay. And she got Kit, the doll she has wanted for years, who is more pampered than anyone in this house.
The boy had a big year. He jumped out of his comfort zone to take part in his 5th grade musical. He graduated from elementary school. He started middle school. He turned twelve, and is now counting down the days until he is officially a teenager. He learned to play the clarinet. He ran a few races. He started learning to cook; his first solo meal was delicious. He learned how to use the washer AND the dryer. He grew in intelligence and strength. And he discovered a love for graphic design.
As for me, I turned thirty-one and got a tattoo. I claimed my inner strength. I continued to pursue a degree against all odds. I grew as a teacher and a writer. I learned that my friends and family are among the very best people in the world, something I was fairly certain of before this year but am now sure of. I looked on proudly as each of my children started to come into their own. I watched their personalities bring out their strengths and talents. And I realized there is nothing greater I will do in this life than be their mother.
In the coming year, I see great possibility for all of us. I see so many ways for each of us to grow. More importantly I hope it is a year filled with love, peace, and family. For there is nothing better.