Wednesday, February 2, 2011

the blizzard

The roads have been overtaken by snow here in Chicago. The snow plows have yet to arrive on my street so the cars sit surrounded by deep drifts, like fragile glass covered by packing peanuts in the largest box you’ve ever seen.

The snow missed St. Paul, dipping south of the Twin Cities. Usually St. Paul gets the worst of it and Chicago receives less. This time, the storm seemed inverted.

My children will wake up to delight this morning. School has been canceled and everything is deep, deep white. But, in St. Paul an old friend will wake up to loss. She will attend her best friend’s funeral. Souls can be covered in grief just as streets are overtaken by blizzards.

Yesterday the wind blew suddenly. I could mark on my watch when the blizzard hit. I was walking outside at 2:15; it was snowing then, but it was just the preamble. Then, when I returned to the street at 2:40 the wind god arrived on his white carpet. The blizzard has not let up since. Nature, it seems, wanted to remind us all just who is The Boss here.

The friend died in her husband’s arms, an asthma attack. She was 36. No one could have seen it coming. When the attack set in, I imagine it must have felt a bit like yesterday’s blizzard in Chicago—surprising, sudden, fierce, crippling. The attack arrived and struck a fatal blow.

Today there is little else to do but dig ourselves out. Truth be told, I’d rather just sit inside and hope the aftermath takes care of itself.

Why, God, do these afflictions come so suddenly? And how is it that one person’s affliction is another’s delight? How can it be that this day one person shall grieve while two children laugh and play? Speed the day when joy tips the scales, when suffering falls away forever, and the imbalance of blessedness reigns.

(Until then, my thoughts and prayers are with you today, my friend—even as my children play).

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