Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Winter (the season) (08/13/09)
TITLE: Two Winters
By Alan Zimmerman
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It wasn’t the coldest winter; it was a bleak, cruel, horrible winter. In the spring her father had died. He was the king; she was the princess no more. In the fall her beau had left her at the altar. Her dreams of a life together, family, motherhood, suddenly and unexpectedly crushed. The joys of winter became her tormentors. The snow was an earthly shroud covering the best parts of her soul. The frost on the window was a broken mirror that distorted her view of the world, and of herself. The howl of the north wind was the raucous laughter of a contemptuous God who tricked her with blessings, then cruelly stole them away from her.
She did everything she could to increase her agony. She kept her house cold so she could feel the chill of her pain all the time. She tried her best not to laugh or even smile. Lots of people reached out to her, “Mary, the girls are going to the movies on Saturday. Why don’t you join us?’’ and others who said, “I’m having a party next Friday. I hope you can make it.” She turned them all down. Even the family Christmas gathering at her mother’s house was shortened. She stayed only two days and left any semblance of joy behind. Truth be told, she tried to ruin the season for everyone, make them suffer her injustices along with her. But that didn’t work as people wouldn’t let the bitterness in her heart ruin the sweetness of their holidays.
Of course, she could only maintain her self-imposed exile for so long. Her heart began to melt for no other reason than she grew tired of hiding it. A strange set of circumstances found her in a church, then serving meals to the homeless. A car accident caused her path to cross that of a handsome police officer. The patrolman, a sergeant now, became her husband and father of her two children.
Looking back, she realized that God didn’t really abandon her. He sent a hundred hands reaching out to her, but she refused to grab hold. Instead, she sought solace in the icy grip of the Devil, even though she didn’t realize it at the time. The blessings came later; blessings that taught her the need for patience and trust.
She sits alone thinking about this winter.
In the summer her mother had died. She was the one person who never gave up on her; who helped her out of the depths of despair; who became her best friend. After weeks of overtime and odd hours even for a policeman, this morning her husband told her he was leaving her for another woman; an older woman at the station. She can’t believe this is happening. Her life has been ripped away again. She doesn‘t know how she will hold up through the holidays. She doesn’t know how she can even make it through today. How will she tell her children that their daddy isn’t coming home? How can she face the world as a single mother caused by her own failure as a wife? The air has just started to turn cold but she feels frozen inside. Thoughts of snowmen and fireplaces and Christmas carols bring only a cardboard happiness, something not real this time, only memories of an unreachable past.
She picks up her Bible and holds it tightly to her chest. Patience and trust. She won’t hide this time. She won’t hide her pain; she won’t hide her tears; and she won’t hide her heart. If a hand reaches out, she’ll take it. If one doesn’t, then she’ll reach out to someone else. She won’t put on a brave face for the kids. They’ll learn to rely on faith even when life blows them into a blizzard of troubles. In God’s time the darkness of this winter will fade away just like the one ten years ago.
She thinks about her mother telling her, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself.” She manages a slight smile but it doesn’t stop the flow of her tears. She whispers, “It’s not that easy, Mom,” but she knows she’ll get through this. She doesn’t know how, but she knows.
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