Winter- the most thought-provoking of all seasons. A season of death and decay, cold weather and exposed trees. The season where it seems everything we’ve lost and stand to lose comes to haunt us. And maybe this is why we seek the most comfort in the winter, because we need it not only for our chilled, frosted skin but for the parts of our soul that seem to always be in winter.
I bring this up because I think about it every winter, and this year is no different. I always consider death the most in the winter, I think because everything in nature is renewing. Therefore, it is now that all must die in order for it to come back to life- a true resurrection. The problem with winter is that the people we lose here don’t come back in the spring, like everything else does. Upon March’s return, trees will sprout green leaves again, flowers will bud. Color will return, and life with it. The rain will fall and everything will breathe back to life, eyes fluttering open. But the rain will not renew what we’ve buried six feet under. The people we lose in the winter don’t get the resurrection that the rest of nature has come to expect.
And so I hear about a girl who was 21 who died either today or yesterday. I don’t know her, but some of my friends on Facebook do. I’m shocked that she is only a year older than me, and yet she no longer exists. I can’t find what befell her, but it couldn’t have been natural or painless, if I had to guess. So I sit here in a quiet room, crowded by all these thoughts of what this means.
I have heard about a few deaths lately of people I knew in a past life and people I don’t know, but my friends know. When a death is close but still distant, I find myself thinking about what it means for the rest of us. Those who remain. What do we do? We see the risks of life and we hope that we might dodge the truly fatal blows, that we might find ourselves among the lucky. But really, what do we do? How do we continue to move when we are aware that something egregious certainly killed him and/or her.
Nobody seems to know. Still we walk on. We travel a lonely road, all of us apart. And we hear the screams of the others as we walk. I look over, knowing that you too walk a path that runs parallel to mine, but through the evergreens, I cannot see you. So I stop and I weep for you, knowing not what has befallen you, only that you could not fight it off. I weep for you, for what you’ve lost and the fact that you can no longer weep yourself because you are gone. But it is me I weep for also, because I am frightened and I cannot know what terrors lurk upon my path, the same way you couldn’t have known yours. I weep for a time, then I walk on. Because I must. Because winter will always be hollow and haunted and lonesome. Because no matter what lies ahead, the only way is on. In time, we all will choose to walk on. It is the most honorable choice we can make, knowing that, in life, nobody makes it out alive.