Today the first snow of the season fell. As we were sleeping in the darkness in our soft beds of feathers the quiet snow flakes fell into the grass beneath our windows. And when I woke up and opened my eyes I knew what had happened as the shocking white made the reflection on my walls brighter then usual. This is a day I dread every year. A day that I wish against as the news casters promise and then promise again. A day that as the city is bustling with excitement and anticipation for the little snow we get each and every year, I whisper words of hope that God wont let it happen. And while children burst at the seams with joy for the flakes soft and cold I prepare my heart for the flakes of sadness that will soon creep in and stay until the final mounds have melted from the streets.
Through my childhood there were different things about my mother and father that I recognized and held close to me. Things that even as a young girl I realized I would cherish as I grew older and when I thought about these things would bring warm feelings of love and security. And to this day every time I think about my childhood with my father it is snow that comes to the forefront of my mind. Snow. So simple, something so natural and expected. Something that happens every year but for him, each time was like the first time he had ever experienced it. Standing at the living room window in the evening before bed, curtains drawn back, streetlights casting a soft glow on our faces as we watched in awe at the falling crystals. Standing in the back yard all bundled up, coffee in his hand, hot chocolate in mine quietly watching as the snow coated every exposed surface. Driving to the store through the abandoned streets, stopping in an empty parking lot as he would jerk the wheel to make the car spin, filling the truck with squeels of laughter and feelings of rebellion.
One of, if not my fondest memory of my father was one night when I was probably 15 or so. The snow fall had been abnormally heavy for our area of Washington and I had been off school for a few days. It was fairly late in the evening, probably 10 or so and I was already in my pajamas yawning and ready to sleep. He asked me if I would like to go for a walk in the snow, just around the block. Just to look at the beauty of what the universe is capable of. I jumped at the opportunity, as at this point in my life my fathers participation in all things me, had dwindled and our relationship had changed. I put on my snow boots and wrapped a scarf around my neck and as we opened the door to step out into the freezing streets I wish I would have known that this memory I would hold dearest to my heart as things exploded and he walked out of my life. We walked side by side, looping through the neighborhood streets, enjoying each others company, recalling the way that things used to be when I was younger and I was his girl. I know that at some point he began talking to me, words of advice I know is what he was saying but as I strain to recall what was said on that night there is nothing but silence that meets my ears. I cant remember what was said, the memory for me is silent and purely visual. The clear black sky with a million stars shining down on us. The soft orangy glow of the street lights falling on the white ground. The footsteps we left behind us as we traveled on through the snowy sidewalks that no one had bothered clearing. His silhouette next to me, head and shoulders taller. It was the one and only time he had ever asked me to go for a walk with him in a winter wonderland and I did not take for granted the joy that it brought me. Snow was something that we shared, both of us loving it more then any one else. I walked with him that night, completely oblivious to the fact that I only had 2 short years with him. That at the end of that time, my life would change for ever and I would join the half of the world without a father.
At this point in my life I had already met and fallen in love with Matthew. I was so young, and while my mother supported and encouraged our relationship, I was met with nothing but hesitation from my father. It had nothing to do with Matthew himself. My family loved and accepted him as part of us but it was the simple fact that he had the potential to take my life into his hands. To change the path that my father dreamed of for me. One day the snow had fallen and school was out. He agreed to drive me to Matthews to spend the day at his house. The drive was quiet, with nothing but the soft music playing in the background. When we got the the begining of the private road Matthew lived on my father spoke words that would stay with me forever. Words that even then, in the naiive brain of a 15 year old would hit me so hard I cried silent tears down my cheeks as I closed the truck door behind me.
“I dont want you to stay here” he said. Confused, I started in on a complaint that he had already told me I could spend the day at Matthews. But that wasnt what he meant. He told me he didnt want me to stay in the small town we lived in. He said that he wanted so much more for me, that the world was vast and endless and that I needed to get out and experience everything the world has to offer me. He all but begged me to please, dont settle down with Matthew. To not let young love turn into a life ended too soon by a pregnant belly and a shotgun wedding. He wanted me to go to college away from this place, and if I didnt want to go to college, that I should just go and not come back until I had miles on my feet and experiences to share. That I had the potential to do great things, that would never get done if I allowed myself to stay trapped in the town we lived. I didnt say much back. I took these words in, words that were so out of character for him to speak to me. Words that hit me in a way that would stick with me for the rest of my life and when we arrived at the house of the boy I loved I closed the door to the truck of my fathers and entered the world a different person.
Looking back now, I cant help but feel like these words spoken to me were words coming from a man that knew he wouldnt be around for much longer. Like he was trying to prepare me to be a woman early, knowing that he would not be there when the time came to guide me and offer advice as the need arose. I always knew my mother and father wanted different things for me. My mother wanted me to find a nice man settle down and be a mother. To her, a good mother stayed home which meant that an education wasnt particularly important. To her, this would bring me happiness and fulfillment. My father always wanted me to continue on to college and get a good education. To find something I loved doing while at the same time staying young and living a life that I would hold the memories from dear to my heart as I aged, had a family and settled down. Neither of these things were wrong, they were just different. Parents to the same daughter having different ideas of what they wanted for me.
Snow was falling from the sky the night my father walked out of my life 6 years ago. The world had the quiet calmness to it that only snow can bring on as my world fell around me and life changed forever. He now lives in the mountains of California, back to where he came from. He has a new family now, the children of the woman he lives with. I have not seen him in 6 years and think of him very little. But when the snow graces my world with its presence I cant help but fall apart emotionally. Remembering the times we shared together when I was small, when he was there for me, in my life every single day. When I looked up to him like he was the keeper of all wisdom’s and when I never feared losing him.