Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
-By Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Days sober: 440
It is Christmas Day. This morning my husband and I woke early, in my parents finished attic bedroom, to a view of gentle snow falling through small round paned window. The morning extended silent arms to us as we whispered “Merry Christmas” to each other, bodies wrapped in warmth from down comforter and piles of wool blankets, separated by a sleepy chihuahua.
Today we are having a white Christmas. It is my husband’s second Christmas sober. Last year he was about 20 days out of rehab and we were like babes celebrating rebirth, my husband taking his first wobbly steps, as I fearfully removed my stable limbs from his developing ones. One year later, my husband’s steps are those of a man and a husband. This year has been one of milestones, my husband receiving employee of the year at his company, becoming a breadwinner, and most importantly a supporting partner. This year he is a gift giver. The most precious gift given: a present husband. A Christmas present in mind, body, heart.
Today there is so much snow, in its purist powder form. Below, it blankets lifeless ground, above bare icy branches of frozen trees transform sunlight to dancing merry beams. We step outside where cold earth surrounds us, inside flesh chests our hearts are burning hearths; nonetheless we shiver with raised goosebumps on skin, chattering teeth, and trembling limbs.
This Christmas Day, we are celebrating blessings amidst heartbreak. In barren winter and endless white field, we stand counting our blessings and we gaze upon bodies of fallen soldiers, scattered dark forms against blank white canvas, unmoving and visible as far as the eye can see.
We lost two this Christmas.
One Christmas Eve. Another this Christmas morning. They fought. They fought hard, but in the end the dope won. They were fathers, husbands, sons, brothers, friends. Facebook posts from last night show smiling faces, visiting friends, families whole. Photographs of loved ones, backgrounds of sparkling lights and colorful shiny bulbs hanging lovingly from adorned Christmas trees. His voice on the phone mere hours ago, heard from a man with breathing lungs and firing brain. This Christmas he is now just a body, cold, vacated, and lost to overdose. Reminder of the impermanence of life and our fragile human bodies.
This Christmas Eve I reconnected with one of my oldest friends who I lost touch with over the years. He is 10 months sober. I remember when he started using oxy in high school. That was 20 years ago. I want to text him. “Don’t go back out there. That one trip out can mean your last. I don’t want to lose you.”
In surreal white landscape, across immense field in the distance, we see a sleigh pulled through dense pine trees, the horse leaves no trace as snow covers her tracks. She disappears into white and we are waving goodbye to the faintest sound of ringing bells. I can’t see them, but I know she pulls bodies in her wooden carriage. I wonder how she can carry so many. I wonder how our hearts can.
We are having a white Christmas. A dear friend of my husband did not rouse to his son’s attempts to wake him this morning. Another lost on Christmas Eve. They did not get to behold the glistening powder-covered land this morning. They will not wake to this earth again. There are snowflakes upon my lashes, but it is the tears that blur my vision.
Sleigh bells ring their farewells from distant forest, serenading a melancholy song. We lay together making snow angels, looking up to parting grey clouds, between them a melting blue-sky puddle expands. The bodies of our beloved dead soldiers have been towed away by horse pulled sleigh. Now infinite snow angels cover the earth, laid to rest all around us. We flap legs and arms through snow, birds without flight.
This post is dedicated to my husband and one of my oldest friends who is 10 months clean. To all the beautiful soldiers we have lost to the opioid epidemic, Merry Christmas. We love you.