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Of Glaciers and Snowflakes
?What is the difference between a snowflake and a glacier??
It was nonsensical, trivial little question my mother had asked me when I was still a child. I hadn?t though much of it, at the time. I rolled the question around in my mind but for two seconds, and then spat out an ill-conceived answer before even thinking it over, desperate for her approval.
?A snowflake is small, fragile. It melts quickly, and is weak. A glacier is huge and strong. It is immovable and eternal.?
She smiles sadly and shakes her head.
?Wrong, my love.? She returns.
I didn?t understand, back then. When I was so naï¶¥, I thought my answer was perfect. I believed it was correct in every way.
I was wrong.
Still, that question haunted me. I was not used to being told I was wrong. I was perfection?prince of the western lands, heir to the thrown of the most honorable ruler in history. I was ideal. I was perpetual. I was always, always right.
So I tried again. And again. And yet again still. Every answer I came up with, every time I was so sure I was right?she shot it down like a sparrow; quickly, deftly, and silently, with but a shake of her head.
The night came, some months later, that she came into my bedchambers. Waking me with a chaste kiss on the temple, she whispered softly in my attentive ears.
?My time is almost up, my love. You must know now, or I fear you will never understand.?
I sat up, truly worried by the tone of her voice. She rested a hand lovingly against my cheek, caressing my skin softly.
?Mother, I don?t understand. What must I know?? I questioned, leaning subconsciously into her warm touch.
?What is the difference between a snowflake and a glacier?? She smiled, the same sad smile as before.
I blinked. It was hard for me to accept to defeat; I had never had to before. I always got what I wanted? and right now I wanted the answer. ?What is it, mother??
She leaned in close to me, her lips just brushing my ear. ?Nothing at all.?
Before I could correct her?claim that yes, there was indeed something very different about the two?she pulled her long, black cloak over her head, and slipped away. I dropped back into a fitful sleep, my dreams full of white snowfall and immovable, icy glaciers.
It would turn out that she was killed in the night, the assassin coming and going without so much as a single drop of blood spilt. The perfect crime.
For many years, I would ponder the meaning of her answer. ?Nothing at all?? Ridiculous. There were so many differences! I had pointed out at least five to her myself. And yet she had seemed so sure, so confident with her response?
But now, I think I finally understand what she meant.
Now, holding you here, in my arms, I knew exactly why she had said what she did. Of course, there were many differences between a snowflake and glacier?innumerable differences. So she had chosen that particular question out the countless others, if only to make me remember it.
A snowflake is frail?that was true. But, is a glacier not made up of millions of tiny, frail snowflakes, all condensed into one everlasting mass? Are snowflakes not the building blocks of the icy giants that defied so many men?
One snowflake alone is not enough to amount to anything. But when you get enough together, they can create a wonder beyond anything the world has ever seen.
I chuckle, as I muse over the old riddle. Strength in numbers. My mother?s last lesson to me. You stir in my arms, your warm breath ghosting against my cheek.
Or maybe? maybe, she was saying this:
Strengthen your bonds with those you love. Build on them, compress them, and enforce them until they are immovable, unbreakable, and eternal. It will not be easy; nor will it be quick. There will be strife, and conflict. But the end result will be worth it.
Your eyes open slowly, and you blink the sleep from them. Glancing up at my face, you smile warmly. ?Morning, my love.? You whisper
I smile back, and hug you tightly. I wonder if this feeling is the glacier mother was encouraging me to form?