It is early morning of the first day of winter, the Solstice.
I woke up to the echo of the train whistle and found a light dusting of snow had fallen. I can hardly wait for the sun to rise to to see my world covered in the sparkle of fresh powder. A solstice gift of white and bright drowning out the brown landscape.
A year ago we were loading up into the car to head east for the holidays and we watched the sunrise over eastern Colorado. I remember how blinding it was and how Pikes Peak standing one hundred miles to the south, glistened in all of her majesty. It was spectacular. And across the plains, the bright orange train engines rolled pulling what seemed a mile of cars. Here we were making a journey back to the place where Chris and I grew up, met and married and were looking at the base of the mountain where we called home for 15 years, the place where our children were born. Somehow, it felt all encompassing.
This year, my Mom and Harry have traveled to us and are sleeping a few miles away under my sister Christin’s roof. Here my house, too, is full. With my sister Jenny’s family here there are 4 adults, 6 kids and two dogs snuggled up for the next week. It makes me so very happy. A wonderful gift to have so much family gathered.
This day, even though it is the shortest day of the year, gives me the greatest of hope. To know the light is returning is such a comfort. Tonight, on this longest of nights, we will fill our house with family and friends. Each being a light who shines bright. They will fill my soul with laughter, cheer and hugs. Our solstice party, is a gift to ourselves. To be surrounded by the community we have and to share it with family is true grace. There will be bonfires to burn pieces of paper with worries and wishes. My sweet friend Rosemary, who is an amazing drummer, is setting up a drum circle. (I can hardly wait!) We will fill ourselves with warm soup and bread and toast one another and all of the goodness. It brings me such joy.
I have another sister who is 2000 miles away in Virginia and I miss her dearly. Earlier this week, a package arrived in the mail with a little box that said to open on the 21st. So like a little kid on Christmas, when I got up this morning, I went and turned on the tree (that sounds so funny) and sat on the floor in the quiet and opened it. Inside was a beautiful beaded necklace. Something she picked up 6 months ago on a trip to Bermuda she explained in her note. I filled with warmth to think that she was thinking of me then. The last line read “Something to make your eyes sparkle as the days get longer. I love you, Chrissy” I can’t begin to tell you how proud I will be to wear this tonight. It is a long strand with white, golden, green and red beads. It combines the colors of light which means the world to me and the colors of Christmas, which means the world to her. It’s perfect and will feel like a hug and that she is with me too.
In all honesty, my face is burning with tears right now. First of all, I love that she signed the card Chrissy. I think I am the last one to still call her that. She dropped the “sy” years ago and I just couldn’t break the habit. Second, I can hear her infectious laughter in my head and I love that, too. We met 31 years ago when our parents were dating. So many memories of growing up together are flooding me. She has given me so much laughter. She has one of those laughs that just makes the whole room full of people smile and laugh themselves.But the tears aren’t of just joy. There is no way to escape the sadness and anger that cancer brings with it. It doesn’t define her to me, but stage 4 doesn’t let you forget it’s there for very long. I am grateful for the silly texts she sends me of puppies from work, or cute pics of her son dressed up in his santa hat. It gives me peace to see her soaking up life’s true gifts. Everyday she embraces the light in the darkness. She is inspiring and indeed sparkles bright.
My sweet baby nephew, just woke up crying. Chris is up making coffee now and the faintest of light is beginning to outline the trees on the horizon. This shortest day now begins and I know it will be a great one.