It starts to snow midday as we get ready for our first errand together since recovering. We might have cancelled, if it weren’t important. It hasn’t snowed here since Christmas, yet my first reaction is a vague trepidation. I’m doing the driving until my guy gets stronger. He’s the snow driver. The roads are still gray and wet, the temperature high enough to prevent their freezing . . . so I just breathe. When we come out of the bank the sky is swirling with fat flakes! It is impossible not to be dazzled by them. I look up ‘til I’m almost dizzy.
I think of our first winter trip up to the cabin years ago. Our daughter is visiting us in Boise with her two little girls from the Bocas Islands, Panama. We leave Boise unaware of the storm warnings. It is before our iPhones. Rex had checked the weather the day before, but he’s pretty easy-going about these kinds of things. “It could change two or three times before then.”
We drive out of the city and across farmlands in bright winter sun, then into the woods and along the rivers toward the cabin. We’re nearly halfway in a ten-hour trip. We’ve had lunch and I’m sitting in the back between two car seats telling the girls, “It will be cold when we get there, and we’ll turn on the furnace and Papa will build a fire in the woodstove. We’ll make some popcorn and hot chocolate . . . and wear our sweatshirts over our pajamas and socks this first night, and snuggle to keep warm . . . but by morning the cabin will be all toasty.” It’s still a grand adventure.
It begins to snow. Thick heavy snowflakes, curled like feathers. In minutes the sky disappears into whiteness.
This daughter is driving, talking to her dad up front beside her, laughing, unafraid, brave. They’re a lot alike. She drives straight into it, the road deserted, our tires making the first tracks, wipers barely keeping up. We can just make out the gray forests on each side of the road, the foggy rivers dark and winding, hinting where the road is, guardrails piled high already with snow verifying it. There is no place to stop or stay along this route, just 100 miles of deep woods.
How did she get to be this way . . . with me for her mom? Me, mentally fretting in the backseat, stomach tightening with every curve, putting on my happy Gramma voice, opening the sandwich bags of Honey Nut Cheerios and apple slices, telling stories about the cabin and all the fun we will have. Thinking of all the rivers we could slide into without being found! I have no memory of sliding off the snowy highway as a one-year-old sitting in Mom’s lap, the two of us landing in a snow bank . . . me still in her arms. But it must have stayed with me. I only heard the story from Daddy’s sister a few years ago. I do remember the many winter trips to the cabin to visit Grandpa and Grandma, the snow driving straight into the windshield, white crosses shining in the headlights at the curvy edges of the forest highway. Seems my tummy always knew more than I did. My tummy tells me that this ten-hour trip will take twelve. It does.
How did this daughter get to be this intrepid soul? I’ve watched her climb a water tower on the island to find out why we had no water, then fix it. Hold her new baby at her chest and her mama’s hand as our little propeller plane drops repeatedly in a tropical storm. Brave unspeakable danger to protect her girls and never give up. She’s one of those people who takes you through. Our boys are the same way. We’ve been reminded of this again this winter. How did we get so blessed?
From the warmth of my office I watch the still-falling snow transform branches and walks. A boy pedals by on his bicycle after school, racing straight into the white, then pumping both arms high in celebration. I wonder, is it too late to let it transform me? Is it too late to stretch wide my arms and let my head fall back and just revel in its beauty? How many other beautiful things are marred by my anxious worry about what might or could happen? There’s never an end to that list. We wait for answers and for rescue from things harder still to bear than illness or aging. The heartaches of those we love.
“It's come at last," she thought, "the time when you can no longer stand between your children and heartache. When there wasn't enough food in the house you pretended that you weren't hungry so they could have more. In the cold of a winter's night you got up and put your blanket on their bed so they wouldn't be cold. You'd kill anyone who tried to harm them . . . Then one sunny day, they walk out in all innocence and they walk right into the grief that you'd give your life to spare them from." Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Once again, I realize how much these last months have shaped us. All of us. I want to be intrepid. Brave. Fearless. Strong. Trusting . . . whatever the storm. Teach me again, Lord, to wait, hope, and trust in You.
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31