Shall I Compare Thee To A Winter's Day?
I hate winter. The snow is pretty and the sun, when it is out, is always beautiful, but it ends there for me.
It's the miserable cold that blankets Indiana at this time of year I dislike the most. It's like waiting for someone to break your legs. You know it's going to happen and you know when, but there's nothing you can do to stop it. The cold is horrible. It's as rude as a home invasion, as harsh as truth, and as bitter as the next morning. No matter where I go, it's there. In this over-priced box I call home, the only thing kept out by the windows are comatose people and animals, so the cold traipses in and out like drunk guests at a cookout. Whenever the thermostat decides to kick on, it blasts this space with heat straight from Hephaestus' forge. The dry, hot air mixes with the dry, cold air. The air, now devoid of all moisture, sucks it out of me, my sons, the wood, the plants, the dishwasher, towels, cups, the drywall,... I've awoken in the morning before to find a cup of water left on a flat surface by one of the boys surrounded by dust mites looking for relief. I have no problem with spiders here. The air sucks the life out of their prey before they've had a chance, so they don't even bother.
The bright, beautiful sun shining during a bitterly cold winter's day is the other part of winter I dislike almost as much as the bitter cold. First, the sun rarely shines in Indiana during the winter. When it does, it lies. The sun invites me to come out and play. I look out the window; tantalized, tempted. "It can't be that cold," I think. "With all of that sun shining, it has to be warmer. I'll just run some errands and get out for an hour or so."
I throw a hooded sweatshirt (old school) on over my t-shirt and step outside to a cold like dry ice is encasing me at that very moment. I look up from the snow to catch a glimpse of that beautiful sunshine that lured me out in the first place and try to recapture at least some of the allure that got me this far. I ignore the cold and get into my car. Since my errands are all in town, the heat never kicks on. I freeze in the car, the lack of wind being the only advantage. My first two stops take much longer than the whole list should have, because I refuse to leave the warmth I find in each store. A clerk at the hardware store finds me huddled by the grills and charcoal. So many memories of warmth and, well, more warmth were there. He said I could stay as long as I didn't start any actual fires. I assured him, as a former firefighter, I could handle that. I didn't tell him that as a recovering heat addict, I couldn't assure him of anything. I give up and go back home with two bottles of hand lotion. I may have to live with the heat and cold, but not the dryness. No. I have limits.
I think, really, I dislike winter, because it has become a metaphor for a couple of past relationships, relationships with a lot of sun and blue skies that were bitterly cold and dangerous. The hubris and loneliness that drives me out into frigid days against my better judgement allowed me to accept the conceits these women offered and a hope, working against all the evidence of my senses, kept me in them for much longer than I should have.
Like a warm, sunny summer day, though, a good woman is a pure gift from God. What she offers is genuine, inspiring you to be greater and providing the necessary support. Knowing you, she cares for you in ways you need, but may not even recognize. Such a woman should be honored, cherished, respected, protected, and loved like nothing and no one else. She is unique. She is rare. As long as you treat her as the woman she is, she will never turn into a bitterly cold winter's day and God will bless the two of you throughout your lives together. Do not settle for less.