It snowed real snow on Wednesday night. For Texans, snow is cause to go outside and play.
In the morning we find these guys, Flash and Henderson (aka "Henry"), standing in the early sun, clearly enjoying the warm rays on their thick coats. For the first time in over a week of rain and sleet, they are finally dry. Tom and I scratch them all over, and they literally doze in the attention.
It's been over five months since Henry came to live with us. He and Flash have had some rocky moments, but we notice that they stand closer together these days. They huddle in the sleet. Their fighting seems more like playing. The grudges don't last as long as they once did.
And this morning, we see this: Flash grooming Henry. He is gently scratching Henry's back with his teeth.
I nearly cry.
They've come so far.
I don't remember the last time I made a snowman, and when Tom goes inside I can't resist making one in the back pasture. I pack a ball of snow and begin to roll it, slowly making it bigger and bigger. I smooth the edges and put the first ball in place. I begin the next ball. And suddenly, a thought comes, unexpected, unbidden.
I should be making this with Collin.
He should be here.
Collin. He was the baby I was pregnant with, who died when we were in a car accident along our country road. He would be eleven now. We would go sliding, have a snowball fight and drink hot cocoa together.
What would he look like?
Would he love the outdoors, like his big brother does?
How I miss him.
I keep rolling, packing, smoothing, stacking. I add small stones for eyes and a mouth. A carrot for a nose.
Funny how you can feel a pang of sorrow at the same time that you're experiencing joy. The sky is blue, the air crisp, and then this snowman...well, it makes me swallow hard, and feel so wistful. I try not to think of the sadness very often. I make my armor watertight, and I keep my game face on. But sometimes, out of nowhere, I spring a leak.
I turn to see Flash, inspecting the new visitor to his pasture, and my sudden melancholy moment evaporates as I'm pulled back into the present.
The sky is still blue. The air crisp. I'm in a pasture, on a Thursday morning, with a gentle beast and a pocketful of carrots. There is goodness here, and delight. I can't forget that.
I watch the following interaction with a grin.
"Hey, man! Are you new around here?"
"I sure do like that nose you got there. Mind if I just sniff it?"
"I wonder if it tastes as good as it smells? Sorry, I just can't help myself..."
"Mmmm! Yep, it tastes just as good as it smells!"
"Oops. Was that wrong?"
I still haven't figured out this whole journey of life.
I don't know why things happen the way they do. I don't know why babies are lost, or why some relationships take so long to smooth out. I don't know why I've failed at some of the things I wanted most to be good at, or why other things have come so easily. I don't know how it's possible to ache with loss and yet feel joy at the very same time.
I still don't know how I came to have a couple of donkeys in my pasture, but here we are.
All I know is that on days like today, the best thing to do is to close my eyes and lift my face to the sky. I whisper, "Thank you." Through the hard times, and the good times, You are here.
And I can still smile.
Just like this guy.
Where are you on your journey? Do you sometimes "spring a leak" when you least expect it? Today, raise your face upwards and offer thanks for where you are.
Like me, you're exactly where you're supposed to be.