I sometimes wonder (for no apparent reason) whether C, my ex-husband, ever thinks of me–ever wonders how I am doing–now that it’s been more than five years since our divorce. I think of him, his wife, and his daughter often; I wonder how they are and genuinely hope they are well. I think, too, of C’s mom, grandparents, and brother; I wonder how my former sister-in-law is doing, or my former niece and her sister, whom I’ve never met, and C’s uncles, aunts, and cousins.
It has always troubled me that divorce cut me off irrevocably from these people: one minute they were family, and the next they became strangers I’ll never see again. This finality and the absolute abruptness of the break both stun and sadden me. It’s something I still haven’t made peace with, even all these years after having moved on.
Winter is a contemplative time: the landscape is sleeping, people have retreated indoors, and like meditating cats we all have hunkered down to generate and savor our own inner warmth. Winter, especially in New England, is a time for waiting: when will we see long-lasting days again, or when will we dare to bare our ankles and necks? The barefoot and sandal-clad days of summer seem impossibly distant, and we’ve almost forgotten the object of faith–spring green and all the hope it holds–that we’ll spend these next interminable months waiting for.
It is in these winter months when it is natural to wonder about time and its passing, or about the nature of love and loss. How long have we humans been treading this old, tired earth, tracking mud on our soles and brushing snow from our boots? All these generations–all these endless eras–and what at all have we learned about heartbreak and how to weather it? We’ll all older but no wiser now; we’ve just become more practiced over time at the same old mistakes, rehearsing the same stories even though we know how they all will end.
Winter is a time when such questions arise unbidden, and they linger like frozen snow that won’t melt until spring. Some questions are unanswerable, and others simply unanswered, the Universe remaining tight-lipped when it comes to our most pertinent questions.