These Seasons

November 23, 2011
Spring is coming again, I thought to myself, nose tipped up in the air to smell the cool breeze bringing traces of damp soil, blooming flowers, and sunshine. My Mary-Jane’s made little clicking noises on the asphalt, a sound that eventually faded away as the road turned to gravel and crunched underneath my heels. I used to skip down this road, but heavy books weighed me down, a result of moving up in life from one stage to the next, four seasons in a year to keep growing up, moving on, letting go of things like flowers and melting snow, exchanging them in favor of a more "virtuous" life.

I missed spring, as usual. It always takes so long for the seasons to change from one to the next, to circle back around again and give me the pleasure of watching ice turn to water and drip from shingles on roadside houses, splattering onto the daffodils that are just begins to sprout. I should be able to ride my bike again soon, the little Burley Design that my dad bought for me before they stopped making them. I could take it out from the shack in the backyard and pedal to the post office on the other side of town and see if Jane sent me a letter from her boarding school in Michigan.

Jane was an autumn kind of girl; she liked watching the leaves change slowly, day by day, from green to red, until they were so red that they couldn't hold their luster, and slowly fell one by one to the damp grass below, gradually becoming brown and brittle with the promise of coming winter. She hated spring, because it was a premonition of summer, of heat and choking humidity that pressed down on her lungs until she couldn't breathe.

I once told her it wasn't fair to judge one season by another, but she had given me a weird look and turned back to drawing the most perfect hopscotch game I'd ever laid eyes on. The debate of seasons was forgotten in favor of hours of useless fun with a piece of chalk, and two strong legs used to running from one end of the road to the other to get away from the big yellow machine called a bus that always promised to bring us back to a place we could never truly find happiness in.

No matter what she said, though, spring would always be my luxury. Finally feeling a beam of sunshine touch down on strawberry curls that tangled so easily in the gradually warming wind, now that was a great prize. Simple things like picking newly blooming dandelions could make me forget how awful the winter truly was, and how I was now free from the pain such a blistery season brought.

Winter is the time Jane was forced to move away from me, from our little town, from our little bubble of faded Monopoly boards, broken chess pieces, missing chalk, and big cartons of orange juice that would be found empty in the oddest places. I remember once we whispered all our secrets into one container and buried it her backyard. We'd check on it every week to make sure no secrets escaped until we eventually forgot it ever happened. We found the orange container when building ice forts just days before she was meant to move, hidden beneath the soft snow and barely covered with dirt, easily seen. When we opened it I could swear I heard children giggling and confiding hidden dreams in each other. Jane had just shrugged and thrown it in the trash. I secretly reburied it when her mom told her to wash the dirty laundry. I didn't want to forget, even if she did.

Winter is also the season that God took my mom's soul to heaven with Him. She had been slowly fading into her sheets, the white on her face even whiter than the soft bed she was laid on. She held my hand as tight as she could when she told me she loved me, but it was so weak that no matter how hard she squeezed I couldn't feel it on my own.

I watched the beautiful green eyes of hers, still so vibrant, so prominent against her ghostly face as they lose their life, right there. Dad had been getting medicine in the town for her. He didn't get to say his final goodbyes. But years later he told me one night, clasping my hand like I was still as small as a baby, "I dream of her every night, Rose. And in every dream we're always together. And at the end, I always get to say goodbye." That restored some of my faith in goodness. I think God didn't want my dad to be so lonely. I bet he still dreams about her each night.

Spring is my reprieve from bad memories, memories I am forced to remember for three months of chills and trying to heat up a wood stove that been broken for years, and now only runs on miracles. I think my life runs on miracles too. Miracles like a post office twenty minutes east on foot, or ten on a bike, seven if the wind is on your side. Miracles like the perfect snowflake landing on the tip of my nose on the anniversary of her death. Like being able to touch my toes after training for months to qualify for the school dance team, and actually making it. Miracles like digging up an old orange juice carton and remembering how pleasant the summer we did it in was. Like summer break when Jane comes back for a week, and we swim in the creek in my backyard like our childhood never left.

Miracles like knowing that no matter what winters will come, spring will be there in the end, sun shining a brilliant smile, and memories fluttering around me like flower pedals.

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