The bitter cold of the pre-dawn dark stung my cheeks. The bag on my shoulder heavy with the Sunday edition Omaha World-Herald, I trudged along the snow packed sidewalks making my deliveries. Nose dripping, I stifled my silent weeping as I approached the corner where I’d meet my brother delivering his section of the route. 

Perhaps it’s this childhood memory that makes me averse to even the thought of being outside in the Nebraska winter when temperatures fall to single digits. Despite my beautiful vintage coat, warm red boots and collection of gloves, as this week’s cold goes from a snap to a stay I shiver outside and in.

This harshness matches the season in many ways. But so has the warmth that’s arrived without fail each day. My son Benjamin’s body was crushed in a car accident on the interstate the week before the winter solstice, yet the solace of loving support that followed was as consistent as the sun shining on the windshield on a morning drive.

Calls and texts asked “What do you need?” People I haven’t talked to in years and others we’ve never met donated money. Pot pies and prayers arrived with soups and spirit lifting messages. Like the heated flannel sheet from the warmer that the nurse presses over you when your body is shaking in a hospital bed, it was comfort from the cold.

I feel the sense of the reality of my child’s long journey ahead. I feel the softness of the love that will surround him on his way.

I grieve for my child who has lost—-for now— his job, his plans for the year, his ability to dance or clap or zip up his own coat. I watch with pride as each day he pushes himself to do one more exercise, try one more task on his own, cross one more item off the To Do’s of putting a life back together again. In my sadness, I am cloaked in parental pride.

I look out at the gray skies. I look down at my weather app and see “-16. Chance of snow.”  I reflect on the winter a decade ago when my late husband entered hospice. My melancholy is supplanted by a deep gratitude that the season spent caring for a dying spouse makes the one  supporting a strong son with a bright prognosis of being able to use his limbs again seem easy.

All sorrow is eased by hope.

I don’t care for the feel of the air right now. But being able to breathe, I will take it in deeply because I feel the warmth of the past, the present, and the future.

                                                                                                Coach Koenig

 Where do you find comfort in this season?

Is there someone whose suffering you can ease in a small way?

What hope do you have for seasons ahead?

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