Best wishes to everyone in the New Year.
The longest night of the year…
So I’ve been trying to lighten these nights by being with friends… and lighting fires…
Last weekend a long-time friend drove hours through a huge winter storm to get here so we could drink a little wine, go skiing, laugh, and do some car repair on my old Subaru in the 20-degree weather… all of which we did successfully, more or less. Sunday night after he left for home I dug through the snow covering a large pile of branches and old wood on the back of our acre that had accumulated over the past couple of years and set it on fire. 20-foot flames lit up the dark, snow-covered night for hours.
Last night friends had a dinner party at their home… where I hadn’t laughed that much in a very long time. Thanks friends. I’m still laughing…
And tonight, keeping another tradition going, I went to the annual Christmas party of the local Brain Tumor Support Group that Sandy and I were a part of. It was good to reconnect with all of those wonderful folks. We ate, exchanged gifts, laughed, and remembered… Thanks Mary and crew. Sandy was with us.
When I got home tonight, in honor of the Solstice, I dug our copper fire bowl out of the snow in the Garden of Friendship and had a big campfire. This longest night was lit up, the snow surrounding the flames was glowing as I played my Native American flute… songs for Sandy. Even though this is the first day of winter, the Garden has been snowed in for about a month and a half now. It was beautiful out there to see the flames flickering warmly in the cold, softly glowing snow-covered landscape… and then the coyotes began howling and laughing around the valley… a sound, and an animal, that Sandy and I have always had a special connection to. I’ve got friends out there on this longest night. And I feel Sandy right here by my side… soaking in the laughter, and the warm light.
It has been four months since she died. Though I struggle to embrace this life without Sandy by my side, I have been trying to embrace this holiday season as she always did. She loved this time of year and, a long time ago, she wore down my cynicism and got me to appreciate and love it also. She always had the Christmas albums playing before Thanksgiving. And though it was a good Thanksgiving with her parents and her brother and family, the past two weeks have been tough for me. I hadn’t even thought much about the holidays coming and all of a sudden they’re here. So I’m doing my best to embrace it… last weekend I put up the Christmas lights outside and started getting the decorations out. And though it’s painful and heartbreaking to do it without Sandy, it’s also somehow good therapy. I know she’s loving the new lights on the 12-foot tall Spruce tree growing in our front yard. There’s about a foot of snow on the ground so it’s looking like the holidays out there.
And tonight I got a big dose of holiday spirit. I went to Sandy’s school for the annual Christmas program - a tradition we always took part in. And though it was bittersweet to walk into the school without her, and get hugs from all of her friends and coworkers on the staff, and hugs from her students… to hear all those children singing was a very special experience, as always. Perhaps even more special. Fighting back the tears, I could feel Sandy by my side, watching those kids with love and pride. There’s nothing like hearing children’s voices singing Christmas songs to make you remember the spirit of the season. So to the Orondo staff and all the students… thank you for that. It was great seeing all of you again and coming back to the school. It will always be a special place to me as well.