Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The longest night

Alexa and I are snowed in this solstice. I drove over snowy hills to collect her from her Dad's earlier this evening. It reminded me of the last freak storm in Dec03/Jan04 as I tried to get to a store to get a pregnancy test to confirm my suspicions. Well I did and I was. Now here I sit with an amazingly beautiful and smart four year old girl sleeping next to me. I remember those first thoughts as my mind spun out various future scenarios around the growing life inside me. And yet none of them came even close to this exquisite moment. I tried to convince myself that I wasn't pregnant - I was 37 and more lesbian then straight - so how could that happen, oh yes, I know the answer. It was my last chance and I took it. I wonder where we will be when the next freak snow storm hits. Where ever it is I'm sure that moment will be even more exquisite than I can frame on the canvass of my imagination sitting here now.

There is a bleakness that comes with snow. Much of life's color is suddenly lost. The temperatures drop and a desire to hibernate overtakes the body. Yet there is a beauty in this ghostlike world that pulls me toward the door. I've been donning the snowshoes and taking brisk walks trying to capture my thoughts in photographs. At one point I put the camera into black and white mode just to intensify the harsh softness of this colorless world. We live in stark contrasts - at least until they melt back into one.

I recall another winter as a teenager in Ky. I had missed my monthly calling and fretted that I might be pregnant. My Mother had gotten pregnant as a teen. She painfully reminded me of the life she dreamed, lost in that ill fated moment in the back seat of some Kentucky boys car. My very existence brought suffering for her. At that moment I could imagine no fate worse than pregnancy. In fact, I embraced death as my only true option and friend. I could not simply eradicate my error with an abortion. If I must destroy my own flesh I would do it completely, joining my unborn in the next world. The snow fell and the world became my silent witness as I walked into the woods, contemplating ways of ending this misery. Laden with heavy thought I sat on a fallen tree and stared blindly into the white, tears cold against my cheeks. Movement caught my eye and I looked up to see that I was being watched. A hundred yards away a gray and white she-wolf watched my misery. Her coat full and warm against the cold. As her eyes set upon my own I felt my shame begin to crumble in defeat, wrestled down by an atavistic desire to live. A primitive will was shared, a strength and a love. My eyes drifted to the ground and when I looked up again for my companion she was gone. I walked to where I had seen this winter spirit, and discovered that no paw prints littered the snow. I wiped away tears as I found my way back home with sorrow transformed.

I was not pregnant after all. It turned out that the birth control pills I was taking were the wrong strength for me. And whether or not the magnificent wolf was of this world or just an image from my mind, it matters not for she still comes into focus in my moments of weakness, reminding me of my own inner strength. It would be 20 years before I would experience motherhood. From 17 to 37 and now, sitting in the dark, listening to my daughter's soft and rhythmic breathing at age 42. The stark contrasts of my own life, only nostalgia for a snowy night before the warming sun sets free all the colors, painting from the palette of each unfolding moment.

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