It was the first snowfall of the season that Sybil always loved. Not the big ones which required her to shovel for hours, or the messy ones mixed with freezing rain, but the very first one.
It was magical in her eyes; especially when it brought giant flakes, the kind that reminded her of the ones she used to cut out of paper back in school. She would wait a bit before running outside, but once she was sure that enough had accumulated, she’d throw on her coat and boots and race for the back door.
“Doesn’t this remind you of a Hollywood movie?” she once said to me in our childhood back yard. “It’s Christmas Eve, it must always be Christmas Eve, and there’s this family. They live in a big, red brick colonial and they’re all in the living room tucking gifts underneath the tree and drinking cocoa by the fireplace. Well, almost everyone. A loved one still hasn’t made it home, and the person who cherishes them most is upstairs in her bedroom and keeping an eye out for them through the window. She sees a car turn the corner and she knows it’s them, so she tears down the stairs so she can be the first person to greet them when they walk through the door. Once she hugs them tight, that’s when she knows it’s Christmas, and that everything is perfect and will be forever.
“Try and catch the flakes with your tongue. Ith thun!” she then said with her own tongue sticking out of her mouth.
I hated the cold when I was a kid, still do, but I loved being with her, so I would follow her lead. After snacking on frozen H20 for awhile, she plopped down in the snow and made a snow angel.
“Look at me, Olivia!” she said through giggles. “I’m an angel!”
“You’re an angel, alright,” I said in return right before throwing a snowball in her face.
“Hey!” she shouted, pretending to be mad only so she would then have an excuse to throw snowballs of her own at her baby sister.
This went on for a good hour until we went inside and had cocoa for real. Our house wasn’t anything like the fancy one in the Hollywood movie she had described, but it had love.
Last winter, she was too sick to go out and enjoy the first snowfall of the season, but she had enough strength to stand at the window for a few moments and watch it come down.
“I’ll be right back,” I said and then tore outside to gather a mound of snow in my hand. I brought it back to her bedroom and gently placed a few fingers full against her face so she could feel its iciness. As I was doing this I thought to myself, ‘This may very well be her last snowfall. Is there joy for her in this moment we’re sharing, or is she, too thinking about how she will likely never get to relish in her favourite moment of the year ever again?’
I hate the cold. Sorry, I already mentioned that, didn’t I? It’ s just that now that the person I cherish the most is gone, I hate it even more.