Thirty-five years ago today I packed up most of my belongings and put them in storage. Into my car went some clothes, a few favorite books, and my pillow along with my four cats, Sage, Fern, Charlotte and Violet (none of whom was too pleased). We headed north. Two hours later I arrived at my new home, Frog Run Farm, a commune in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, where Sky lived. (Sage howled the whole way.)
Sky met me in the dooryard. We took the cats to the dairy barn, their new home. We loaded my clothes, books and pillow into two backpacks, put them on, and began the one-mile trek uphill into the woods to our new home. For the previous two months, we had built a small, one-room cabin in those woods with a sleeping loft, wood stove, and outhouse. It was my first adventure in house building. Before that, I was lucky to be able to figure out how to install a shelf.
It was the first day of my new life -- living with Sky. We had only been together for the previous ten months, but we both knew it was time to take the next step. With a light snow falling -- as it is supposed to do in Vermont at Christmas -- we settled in for the night. In bed, we held hands and sang Christmas carols, a tradition we would uphold for the next thirty-four years.
Thirty-four Christmas Eves and Christmas Days. First Dana came along, and then Sayer. We did all kinds of different things to celebrate the holiday -- there are plenty of stories to tell. When Dana was almost two, we started the tradition of lighting one more candle every day until Christmas Eve. Dana loved the candles, but mostly she loved putting out the candles with the snifter. That tradition has remained -- wherever Sky and I have been living during the month of December.
This year is different. Dana and I visited with Sky via Zoom this morning. He was pretty out-of-it, seemed sleepy, but with a staff member's urging, finally focused on the computer and our faces.
"You're alive!" he exclaimed. "You're alive!"
"Yup," Dana and I both answered. "Did you think we were dead?"
"Yes, yes! You were in a terrible accident, Sayer, too. You were all dead. You're not dead?"
"No, we're fine. Sayer, too. I guess this is the best Christmas present ever!"
"Well, at least he knows who we are," Dana and I agreed.
Tonight it is 50 degrees and raining. But no matter the weather, I light the twenty-four candles and pour myself a glass of wine. I may or may be able to bring myself to sing any Christmas carols once I'm in bed. I am sad beyond belief, yet so grateful that Sky is getting excellent care -- and that he knows that we are alive.
Merry Christmas to all who celebrate. And blessings on all of you in the New Year. May I be able to touch Sky again. And then we will sing.