I opened the security door and found myself confronting… cold. From the spring like temperatures of yesterday, this morning was a very definite reminder that it is still January, I still live in the northern hemisphere, and it is still… winter in Virginia.
It took mere seconds for me to find my hood and pull it over my head. Walking down the stairs, daughter in tow, I reached into pockets to find mittens. While she ran to get in the car, I stopped to talk to her dad. Cold air finding my hands as if two layers of material did not exist, we discussed weekend plans and logistics. He talks… I listen while feeling my hands turning to ice. Fingers once bitten by frost are never completely heeled. I know that within minutes they will start to hurt if I don’t move – if I don’t get my blood pumping through them.
“I’m cold. I have to go.” And I walk away. I do not look back. I hear the car door slam. I hear it drive around the corner with our daughter tucked safely into the warmth of its interior. And I walk. I know that they will go the same direction I will. I know that they will come within yards of my final destination… and I walk in the bitter cold with fingers of ice.
I used to wonder what my daughter thought as she watched me walk in the cold or rain as she drove by with her dad – everyone very aware that we are all going the same direction; our destination very similar. I wondered what she thought of this model? What her parents were teaching her in this display of communicating and interaction?
Less than a year ago I would have been in the car with her; less than a year ago, there was laughter and conversation between the three of us.
Now I work to model respect for this child. Respect for her father and the choices he makes. Respect for her and her feelings and challenges.
Respect for myself.
My hands warm as I walk. Songs pour through my mind as I forget my ponderings of what my daughter sees and the model her parents present. I know I am only responsible for the life I live and the choice that I make. That is the person I am and the person I will be with her.
My cold hand reaches out and takes the door of the coffee shop from the man waiting for me. I turn to see someone approaching and, in turn, hold the door for her.
Hands thawing, I smile, order, and exchange comments with the cashiered and barista before allowing the last bits of frost to melt as I grasp my cup and feel its warmth. Despite the cold outside, I am warm inside and out.
It is going to be a wonderful Friday.