“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
It had been one of those years. I smiled because I knew I was supposed to. I laughed because it was easier than explaining why I wasn’t amused. As many rainbows as I tried to portray, heavy clouds loomed over my shoulders, and as much as I tried to fool with a happy front, I wasn’t foolish enough to think that I was really fooling anyone.
My mind raced with questions,
“Where was everything I knew? Why didn’t he love me like I needed him to? Where were my childhood friends? Where had my big brother gone? Why couldn’t I just move on? Was I making this all a lot harder than I needed to? Why hadn’t spring’s renewal come this year?”
On any given summer day in Arizona with the sun beaming down on everyone around me, darkness reigned my thoughts.
Growing up was a dream. My parents loved me, and each other. My family bunch got along better than the Brady’s. I remembered no turmoil. No conflict. No storm clouds.
Unknowingly, I was the luckiest girl in the world.
Then, the first snow fell. My closest sister showed up at my house one day. She had been married, seven years, to a man I never trusted. He had been lying to her for the last two. Drugs. Debt. Jobless. She was done, and she and her new baby girl, were moving back in.
I was in love. He wanted to marry me. I couldn’t say yes and I wasn’t exactly sure why. Months, and then a year went by and I still had no answer for his broken heart. I was a happy girl who had dreamed of love and marriage since I could first play pretend. He was tall, blonde, and dreamy. He expanded my mind and cleared my horizons. Even his mother adored me. And still, no peace.
On the freeway home from his house there was a steep drop-off just before the Mesa Drive Exit, it looked like a pleasant escape and it made me glad my logic was still stronger than my emotions. Hours went without blinking. I wandered, aimlessly, from place to place. I forgot how to smile. This was not the Love I longed for. I wanted my heart back, but his pull was like the moon’s on pacific waves.
Just as my faith in love was waning, my sweetest brother--the one who knew all the answers, the marriage counselor no less, seemed to lose his mind. He had an affair with his schizophrenic client. Leaving his wife of 18 years and 6 children for a 50-something crazy woman with the most inauspicious of names. Oh, that name made me shutter.
My mother could not handle his upheaval. She had given way to anxiety attacks and insomniatic episodes.
My mother, the strongest woman I had ever known, was constantly crying. Her children were her proudest accomplishment. They didn’t do things like this. They were taught better than this. They knew better than this. Things like this did not happen in her family--and certainly not to this son.
My best friend had been there at my side for 11 years, and I needed her now. But in a year like this, I shouldn’t have been surprised when she decided she wasn’t going to talk to me anymore. She was tired of being a trusty sidekick--through with comparisons, and over trying to be someone she wasn’t.
Our lives had changed since elementary school and she was going a different direction than me now, was her reasoning. She hadn’t said this to my face. Instead, I had to hear it, bits and pieces, through our mutual friend. I tried to get in touch with her, but it was all in vain. She would not have it.
I decided something had to change. It was exhausting being so depressed. People began to comment on my clouds; I needed my rainbows back. I started attending yoga at my neighborhood YMCA. For one hour a day, I had nothing on my mind. It was lovely. A beam was let back into my life.
Next, I started waking up with my sweet niece. A dance in the kitchen with a two-year old, while the whole wheat waffles cooked in their maker adds a beam or two to the day.
A weekly bike ride on my 1965 tangerine beach-cruiser puts the sparkle back in my eye, and maybe in my mom’s too; she seemed to be resurfacing, she even laughed sometimes.
Tapping into my photography skills adds a glimmer of hope to the love department, as I captured the bliss of engaged lovers’ fresh excitement.
A paint brush and a blank canvas kept my mind busy and my dad proud.
I prayed for strength and distraction, and I became strong and diligent in my cause.
I stood taller. Spring rains were like a baptism on my year. I met someone who illuminated my soul and through him, I learned to let go of the past pain of heartbreak. Muscles that had lain dormant for too long, now ached in my cheeks for delight.
My best friend opened her heart and agreed to talk things over. We cried and laughed then cried some more, but in the end we forgave and promised to learn from past mistakes. We had lost precious time in our friendship, but during our two year hiatus we had time to ponder on how we could each maintain harmony within the relationship. It was necessary and I felt relief to have the chance to mend broken ties.
The glorious season of spring is marked by the earth’s axis tilting further toward the sun. It results in the melting of winter snow, the arrival of new plants and flowers, and longer days in preparation for sweet summer. It occurs once a year for approximately a quarter of the year. I had defied the odds and experienced an entire year of lonely winter. It was a personal experience. Others around me basked in the beauty of newness, while I silently waded in obscurity.
I eventually chose to tilt my axis toward the Sun. My snow melted, slowly, but surely. My flowers sprung from the thawing ground, and my days radiated goodness. A season of spring prepared me for a long summer. A summer I needed more than I had ever needed before. When I saw the Sun beaming bright and orange through the foliage of green trees I cried for joy. I had missed Him, and welcomed Him back into my life with open eyes.
Winters will undoubtedly come again. That’s life. But now I have the wisdom of experience to get through its bitterness. The winter made me stronger, the spring gave me chance for renewal, but I am glad for the summer vacation.