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Tiny glimmers of light shone through the canopy of trees that huddled around the
creek and fell into the water lightly, with a serene and delicate touch. A soft blanket of
white covered everything... everything. It was somehow comforting to know that the trees
needed covering just as much as I did.
It was heaven out there, away from everything. I enjoyed the sound of frozen
silence. The creek in a snow was so different from any other time of the year. In the
spring, sounds of ice melting and falling from the small sloping bluff would echo down
the water and summer would bring the sound of water rushing- in a hurry to get to some
obscure destination that I doubt it even knew. But now, there was just the quiet sound of
frozen winter. Occasionally a bit of snow would fall from an overburdened limb or a stick
would crack in the woods, but otherwise it was perfect silence.
I sat with a nagging knowledge that the moment could not last, but with the wish
that it would anyway. I looked up to see a sky of wintry smoke-colored clouds. It should
start snowing again soon.
Just then I heard the invaders coming, or maybe I smelled them first. That toxic
and odorous smell that filled my nostrils was unmistakable. They always had that white
stick in their mouths; constantly mocking the very idea that the white peace could come
to them too. At first I had hated their intrusion and the smoky fog that followed them. But
then, was it really them that I hated?
“Lillie,” Chaim called in that deep Israeli voice I had come to know well that
week. I saw him coming down the road, noticing the stark contrast of his dark skin to the
snow. “Sweet Pea,” he said with interesting emphasis on the –eet- and the –ea- giving his
syllables sort of a flowing oceanic sweetness.
I was at the low bank of the ice covered stream and, with a moment’s hesitation,
picked myself up so that he could see my hooded face.
“Your mom phoned,” he called out to me, “they’ll have to stay another week.” I
nodded despite the fact that he probably couldn’t see my acknowledgement. He stood
there for a moment and, seeing that there would be no response from me, began trekking
back up the hill toward the house.
Another week. I felt numb. Another week had happened every week and my
parents were still states away. It was as if losing Granny had also meant the loss of my
own life. Nothing was right anymore. Life had become nothing but a foggy dream of
getting up, doing work, and going to bed. Ever since that fateful New Year’s Eve phone
call I had become a ghost- an emotionless ghost.
I didn’t smile anymore, but worst of all I didn’t cry. I tried so hard to, but I never
could. For weeks I had wished for even a single tear. Was I a monster? How could a
person lose someone they loved and not shed a tear? Everyone around me cried so easily.
Mom was worse than anyone the day she flew out to Florida. It was almost as if she had
been crying up an ocean to bring Granny back. Granny loved the ocean. That was the last
place I had seen her.
I pushed off my hood and pulled out my hair so that it could fall freely. It felt
good to be free of the confinement the hood had bestowed upon me. The cold wind blew
on my cheek and stung. I was crying.
I was crying and I really hadn’t noticed before that moment. It felt good- the
sting. I wanted to feel more. I stripped off my coat.
The layers of my clothing seemed to be entwined with my emotions and with each
article of clothing I felt another piece of my grief being let go. I stood there, stripped
down to only a few layers and for the first time I could feel everything. I could really feel.
I felt sad and angry. I felt love and hate. Magnets of emotion came together,
hitting each other and equalizing out until everything was just one big mass of powerful
The tears streamed down- and then came the snow. I couldn’t tell where the tears
ended and the snow began. The pain was never so welcome than at that particular
moment. I fell backward and let myself be covered in white. I became a ghost of snow
until I was numb again, but this time it was only on the outside.
That winter passed and fact became memory and memory experience. It was the
coldest and most potent winter of my life. It changed more than just my lifestyle, but who
I am and how I looked at life itself.
The invaders left and life went back to as close to the way it was as it possibly
could. Things had changed for good though.
I had come to realize that the cover that I had chosen to wear was not what
determined my humanity, but the pain was. Happiness is just one part of a huge piece of
the human experience. Pain, loss, and sadness, too, are pieces of what make us human.
There is no experience that is purposeless in our existence- good or bad. I’ve
found that after my granny’s death I have more closely cherished all that I love and found
a new appreciation for even the least favorable things in life.
Everything leads to a grander appreciation for who we are and what our existence
is about. I want to make the most of every experience, wherever life may take me.