“Mama! Come quick! It snowed last night!”
The high pitch of her excited chatter reverberated down the hallway, stirring me from sleep. I pulled the pillow over my head, but the pull of her delight was too much. I sighed, fixed a smile on my face, and shuffled to the classroom, where she stood, nose pressed to the window, watching the barely-risen sun sparkle across the snow-covered backyard.
When she turned at my footsteps, I smiled for real because the joy on her face…well, magic.
“Can we just watch it, Mama? It’s so pretty!”
She’s like her Daddy in this. He loved snow. Loved it. When he spotted the first flakes in the sky, so tiny you could barely make them out, his face lit with a smile that glowed from deep within him. “Baby Doll, it’s snowing!” he’d boom, gleefully making his way to the kitchen. “Do we have any hot chocolate?”
To Kevin, snow meant Slow down, take a break, just watch and let it be. I envied him that perspective, because to me, snow is work. Shoveling the driveway and the sidewalk. Skating across the icy street to the mailbox. Dragging the trash dumpster to the curb, bumping across criss-crossed tire tracks, frozen slippery ice trails to the street. And the cold. Oh, I hate the cold. The bite of wind, the string of freezing rain. To his mind, life slowed down in the snow. To mine, it got more complicated.
He listened to me worry about electricity going off, or wonder if I could make it to the store one more time, then patted the arm of his recliner, “C’mon, Baby Doll, just sit here for a second.” He gazed out the window, watching the flakes grow larger and spin faster, more crazily to the ground. “Beautiful, isn’t it?”
And that was the day. Sitting by the picture window in the front room, curled up in the recliner, cozy in his Cowboys Snuggie, sipping hot chocolate and watching the snow. As if it were a grand production God was putting on just for him and he didn’t want to miss one minute. There was something so pure about his delight in those frozen crystals. Magic.
She has it, too. That watchfulness. That certainty that God is creating something beautiful just for her to enjoy. That instinct to stop. Just stop everything and enjoy and marvel and gaze with joy at the glittering wonderland before her.
I need it. Whatever mysterious genetic enchantment allows them this peace, this stillness, this just be-ing.
It’s Christmas and it’s harder than I thought it would be. Part of me needs to close my eyes and hide in my room until it’s done. Kevin’s not here to watch me put together toys, handing me the wrong screwdriver for the parts. He’s not lounging on the bed, watching me deliberate over the packages stashed in our closet. Christmas? Birthday? He’d ponder and point and I’d agree and sort. Cookies? Candy? Santa visits? Elf on the Shelf? I can’t summon any genuine emotion for these things, but our little Bear can. And does. These traditions are important to her, especially now. Everything connects us to Kevin, to her Daddy Bear. Keeping Christmas is keeping Kevin, so when she asks if we can still eat cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, I answer, Yes, of course. We’re not doing half of what we usually do, and I feel both numb and guilty about it, but even that fraction of the yuletide list feels too hard right now.
Then it snowed last week and she asked me that simple question: “Can we just watch it, Mama?”
Yes, my aching heart cried out. Yes, teach me how to do that. Teach me how to sit and watch and wonder. Teach me how to set aside the complicated and embrace the simple. Teach me how to find the magic in the beautifully unique snowflakes that float gently from heaven. Teach me how to be still when it feels like my world fell apart and the heavy, sharp pieces are still crashing down, breaking me and burying me in grief, and my every instinct is to run and hide.
Teach me the secret you and Daddy share. Teach me how to be, little Bear. Life really hurts right now and I just want to be.
I knelt at the window beside her and we watched the snow drift down. The ground was already white with glittering sparkles and more came down and time slowed down and the world outside felt God-filled, with peace and hope. She sighed, was still, beside me.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?”
I was still and I heard him.
And I answered, Yes.
Yes, it is.
And yes, my love, we were.
And yes, she is.
And yes, life will be. With our Bear and our God, life will be beautiful again. Peace will drift down and cradle the brokenness and hope will sparkle and joy will glow.
Let it snow.