By. Adam Bankhurst
I know that it comes without fail every year, but it never seems to become easier.
Winter represents so much more than snow and plummeting temperatures. It is a sign of change. It is Mother Nature dictating that what we’ve come accustomed to in these past few months is suddenly over.
Ever since the accident, life just hasn’t been the same. I knew exactly what I was getting into, but I could not stop. It’s as if I was watching my life in slow motion and was a passive viewer instead of in full control.
Every time a snow flake falls onto my skin, I am taken back to that exact moment. It’s as if the snowflakes are a reminder of everything wrong with my life.
Oh well, I can’t just sit here all day.
I get up and start preparing for the day when I hear a knock on my door. I put on some sweatpants and head towards the entryway of my home.
“Who is it?” I call out to my mysterious guest.
“Hello?” I call out again.
As I’m not in the mood for games, I just open the door. Standing below me, as still as a statue, is a little puppy looking quizzically up at me. He looks to be half lab/half shepherd and all freezing.
He is tied with a leash to my door, so I unhook it and pick him up, all while looking around the neighborhood. The streets and sidewalks are completely empty, except for Erin’s Camry that is buried under a snug blanket of snow.
I bring him in, set him on the couch, and run to get some blankets and water.
I come back and he is still sitting there, just staring at me.
“What’s wrong, buddy?” I call out to this innocent creature in front of me.
I look for a collar and notice that he indeed has one, yet it also has a note attached to it. I sit down to reach for it. Just as I do, the dog lowers his head and rubs it against my hand, as if to ask “Pet me?” I happily oblige as he crawls and lies square on my lap.
I continue petting his snowy fur and once again reach for the letter. To my surprise, I notice that it is not a letter but a photo. I look at the image staring at me and almost lose it.
Looking back at me is my life as it was before.
I am looking down at my wife and daughter, preserved and looking as beautiful and perfect as ever. The moment being captured was the three of us at my daughter’s recital. We were so very proud of her and that moment will stay with me forever.
Why was this here though? Is someone playing some cruel joke?
I turn the photo over and written on the reverse are only three simple words;
Let love in.
I immediately recognize my mother’s handwriting and can hear her saying these very words thousands of times as I was growing up.
As I read those three simple words, years of anger, depression, and regret stream down my face, one tear at a time.
Then I remember, I haven’t spoken with my mother in…
It really has been a whole year, hasn’t it?
What’s wrong with me?
Sure, I’ve been through hell, yet all I’ve done for the past two years is push the remaining family I have away.
I look over and the puppy has a baseball in his mouth. I must have left it out.
He is just spinning in circles like a mad man, and for the first time in who knows how long, I smile.
“Come here!” I say with a noticeable rise in pitch.
As if he read my mind, he sprints over and drops the ball at my feet. I bend down to pick up the ball and he just looks at me with a look of such fierce determination and hope.
I throw the ball across the room and he sprints, slides a little on my wooden floor, then gracefully recovers and completes his mission.
He then comes right back.
“Come on, let’s go outside and give you some more room!” I say as I grab the leash and open the door.
As we step outside I am greeted by the warmth of the world. Even though it is the dead of winter, it felt like paradise.
It’s as if a long-lost friend, who has always been there, has embraced me and finally raised me from a long, cold slumber.
We walk towards the park across the street and leave a trail of our footprints in the snow behind us. It doesn’t seem to bother him at all.
I like this guy.
When we get to our destination, I unhook the leash and let fly his prize. As this little ball of fur sprints through the snow, I stand in reflection.
I take in this moment and realize for the first time since their crash I have a purpose.
I am responsible for this young life, and now the most important thing is to make him happy.
As I finish my thought, I remember there are two very important people I need my new companion to meet.
I fall back into a snowy bed and begin to make two angels, one for Sarah and a smaller one for Beth. As I do so, the little fluff-ball comes running and jumps on me, and we both lay between the two loves of my life.
Lying there, with snowflakes falling on all four of us, I once again muster a long overdue smile.
I know I have a long road back, but sitting between my past and holding my future, I felt alive. It’s been a long time since I could admit that to myself.
It is time to come back to the world.