Thursday, February 25, 2016

What winter???

So much for the forecasted rainy, cold winter that El Niño was to bring to South Texas. I don’t think we’ve had more than a handful of sweater weather days these last few months. It looks like El Niño has waved his furry little winter mitten at us proclaiming, “Hasta la vista baby!” as he sailed north.

Those wet frosty winter days when all you want to do is peek your head out of the covers, spy those icy windows, and duck back into the warmth that awaits you under those billowy blankets. Nope, not the case this year…we saw no winter.

Those frigid mornings when just walking to your cold car makes your bones ache and all day long you shiver thinking you can’t wait to get home to snuggle up next to the fire with hot tea and a warm blanket. Wouldn’t know the feeling, winter skipped us this year.

How about those dark dreary days when the clouds muddle the sky, cold drizzle settles in and even the warmest of coats, boots and gloves can’t keep you from being miserable. Only a distant memory from years gone by, as winter didn't choose us this year.

Several weeks ago I attended the funeral of a sweet friend. Her husband passed away very unexpectedly. Three of us, already widows, were walking out of his memorial service as our friend was getting into her car. Hugging her, we saw the pain that was etched into her lovely face. Looking at the three of us she quietly said, “I never wanted to be in this club of yours, but it looks like I am…”

Unfortunately, winter this year, hasn’t skipped this friend of ours. I wonder what would happen if, much like this El Niño winter we have had here in South Texas, grief could simply skip over this precious one?

What if she didn’t need to brace for those cold and lonely days? Could those dreary long grieving days, filled with tears that won’t stop, decide not to choose our friend? What if this bone aching sorrow could bypass her, and this process could be over and done?

What if grief, like winter, could wave its long, cold, unwelcome fingers in a gesture of farewell and simply move on?

As difficult as cold, dreary, freezing winters can be there is proven research that winter’s cold is beneficial. Winter freezes are known to kill bacteria, viruses and insects such as mosquitoes and mites. This cleansing cold can strengthen our immune system. Winter’s rest is nourishing for our soil and plants. The list of positives goes on and on concerning the benefits of cold winters.

I wonder if that’s true of grief? Is grief not a time to put our minds to rest for a season? Is it not a time to allow ourselves to know that bone chilling loneliness that comes with great loss and find our sources of comfort? Aren’t our tears a cleansing agent for our aching souls?

Isn’t suffering the loss of someone we so love a good time to wrap ourselves in the warm blanket of security that comes from our family, friends and our faith? To burrow in until we can feel the warmth of the sun again? To believe and to know that spring and new beginnings are inevitable?

Winter may be able to pass us by once in a while, but grieving, I believe, must be experienced after a great loss. I have come to realize that as much as I would like to shield my friend from having to endure this season of her life, I cannot. 

There are times in each life when we need to put on our warmest coat, thickest gloves and most durable boots. We must trudge our way through the most devastating winter storms knowing that by doing so, we are providing rest to our soul and the strengthening of our faith. We can be assured that in time, we will see the joy of the promise of spring and of new beginnings.

So while we didn’t expect, nor wish to invite another friend into our club…we welcome her with all the love we have in our hearts and we walk by her side until she can feel the spring sunshine once again.

For what it’s worth,

“Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows”
                                                                            —Helen Keller

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4