An Arctic Blast: #WeekendCoffeeShare, #SoCs, and #JusJoJan Day 30

If we were having coffee, I’d be waiting at the door to take your coat and usher you into the living room, where the fire is crackling away, because, baby, it’s cold outside! And I’m not talking about just a little cold, either.

I mean bona-fide killing cold. The kind that makes me so happy for the simple pleasures in life, like hot coffee and plenty of seasoned and fragrant firewood for the old wood stove, and water that pumps up the way it should from our front-yard well. I’d tell you, while you get settled, that I don’t take that water for granted in weather as cold as this (windchills of -40 degrees Fahrenheit – I wasn’t kidding when I said Arctic!). Last night, it froze, and my hero Accomplice went down into the well housing to reset the heater we only need on days that plunge into the single digits.

If we were having coffee, I’d say Happy Valentine’s Day, and tell you how when I met my Accomplice, just about nineteen years ago, now, I never anticipated this life with all the details that make it this life, our life – and not anyone else’s version of living. We fell in love, after all, in a place of canyons and scrub pine, juniper and sage and hot sun and monsoon rains. The air was thinner, and there was something of magic in a life of such complete freedom. On weekends off, we traveled to Sedona, to Flagstaff, into the canyon on Havasupai lands, to the ancient Anasazi cliff dwellings, through Winslow and Wickenburg and Crown King. We slept beside Lava Tubes and Lee’s Ferry, and were once interrupted in the middle of the night by a solitary javelina hog, who, thankfully, just wanted to scuffle around the perimeter of our campsite.

If we were having coffee, I’d shake my head and remember, long ago, in that newlywed gauzy place, that we talked about our future at Elijah Bristow State Park in Dexter, Oregon, and while strolling around the Pisgah Arboretum, and there was nothing in those conversations that mentioned a baby boy named Elijah James Burton, who would be born not breathing on July 13, 2003, and whose entire life would be lived in the span of twelve days, and in only one place – the NICU of the hospital where he was born, and where he would die while his Daddy held him, and I listened to the monitors slow, then stop.

I’d tell you that we never expected that to happen, and certainly not four days before my birthday. I’d tell you that, before you exclaim about how tragic an event that was (and, yes, it was, and I know it with every fiber of my shattered mother’s heart), you might want to witness the rest of our story – how Elijah’s heart valves still presumably beat somewhere in the chest of a teenaged girl, and how we are all better, and his little sister exists, as a result of his coming, brief stay, and exit from life.

I’d tell you I am a sweeter and more gentle person, a better version of myself, than I was before this precious child who came and so quickly left, and yet has stayed, in spirit, bringing value and grace much larger than the small body that once contained him. I’d say there’s a certain kind of magic and wonder in that, and then I’d turn, with a sad and private smile, and wipe a tear for a Valentine I can never hold close. After that, I’d excuse myself for a moment, to tend the homefire, and go hug the daughter who would not be if her brother had lived.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I want to touch on lighter and happier notes, now. Like the snapping of the fire I just stirred back to happy life. Like the dishes soaking in the sink, or the clean laundry that will go to the dryer when I get up next. Like my daughter’s laughter, and her play with her Littlest Pet Shops, heard in muted fashion through her bedroom door. Like my teen son, asleep in his room after being up all night. Like the tapping of my laptop keys, the hum of the heaters that supplement the coziness of the fire, and the sounds of peace, so different from the sounds I grew up thinking of as home.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you it’s about time for me to go. I promised my daughter that I’d be ready to listen to the newest episode in the Welcome to Night Vale podcast, which will air early tomorrow morning. I was rather late coming to this unique series, and it’s best listened to and experienced sequentially. I’m now about to listen to Episode 74, “Civic Changes”, and need to get to 81, “After”. This quest is slightly complicated by the fact that I need my attention for both composing blog posts and podcast listening – details are important in both. So, I’ve been alternating. Fortunately, I can finish drafted posts while I listen. Unfortunately (well, in regards to the quest), there’s a Castle special on tonight, and I’m not about to miss that…so we’ll have to see how all this plays out.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that this post is my make-up for Just Jot It January, Day 30, and used the Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt: ‘an’, as a word, and/or part of one.

If we were having coffee, I’d bid you farewell with warm thoughts, and direct you to Part Time Monster’s Weekend Coffee Share for your next cuppa. And, of course, I’d wish you all a week full of the very loveliest of chaos!

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