It is the day after Imbolc and another day of snow is here at the Village Wise Woman Gardens. It's really coming down out there, about an inch an hour right now. It's a heavy wet snow, not the lighter fluffier stuff we've had over the past few weeks. Gazing out my kitchen window, I catch an occasional flash of red at the bird feeder in the rock garden. Our resident Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal are not letting the snow get in their way. Neither are the chickadees. They keep flying in and out of the feeders on the patio, with a "cheep, cheep, cheep" with each arrival and parting. My Burkwood's Broom has created a canopy for the birds and squirrels to hide under, the branches are so heavily weighed down with the snow. Although this extremely cold and snowy weather is becoming a bit overwhelming now, it has given me the gift of time - time to get things done in and around the house, to close chapters of my life and begin new ones, to better understand myself, my purpose and my path.
January was busy. The halls were undecked and the holiday decorations were put away for another year. The Yule/Christmas tree was stripped of its branches and placed in vases around my home and over the garden beds to insulate them from the cold. The house was returned to its Winter normal. Some minor home repairs and updates, delayed by the holidays, were finally completed. Winter colds and sniffles plagued the household for a few days and visits to the doctor were made after home remedies failed to knock the nasties out. Standardized state-mandated tests and midterm/final exams took up about two weeks of my son's life at school. I placed the past year where it belonged - behind me. And, through it all, there was lots of snow to be cleaned up.
The month culminated in the emotional roller coaster of removing my Dad's things from his apartment. I thought all of this would be easy but, Goddess, was I wrong! I still feel like I am recovering from something 10 days later. To take the contents of someone's life, put it all in boxes, and remove it from the place that they called home, where they felt safe and secure, where the energy of their life filled every nook and cranny of each and every room, is not an easy task. The physical labor of doing it takes its toll on your body (especially when you do it in a snowstorm like we did) but then add the heaviness on your heart, mind and soul of the grief, the memories. It was not easy. And this wasn't moving just furniture and lamps and things like that. It was boxing up and moving my Dad's lifetime of poetry, volume after volume of typed or handwritten journals, manuscripts and marble copybooks, and hundreds of framed and unframed collages, the unique artwork of his life. It was like taking my Dad's live-out-loud spirit and brilliant mind and piecing them out into plastic totes and cardboard boxes. A life in boxes.
And now, right there, on my sun porch, stacked neatly in black plastic totes and cardboard boxes of various sizes, is my Dad, a life in boxes and even his ashes in a lovely urn on a shelf awaiting the trip to his final resting place when Spring finally arrives. I am slowly working on taking some of the things, the things that are now mine, and incorporating them into my home - a lamp here, a picture there, a book on a shelf. Each day, I take one or two things and find a place for them. His writing, personal papers and correspondences, of which I am curator, await careful organizing and cataloging. His collage art is in a storage space at my sister's awaiting the same attention. With the help of some dear longtime family friends, my sisters and I plan to keep Dad's memory alive through his poetry and artwork for years to come.
Since moving Dad's things and in the days leading up to Imbolc, I spent a great deal of time thinking about the closing of this chapter, this volume, of my life. Both of my parents are gone now. Well, physically gone. They live on in me and my sisters. They live on in my son. (I never realized how much my son is like my Dad until my Dad was gone.) As I continue on my path in life, I carry all the wonderful gifts they gave me in their life. Much of what I do in my life, from my writing and gardening to homemaking and cooking to the spiritual path I am on, is because of them, the way they raised me, the way they lived, and the lessons they taught. I have embraced who they were, for better or for worse, and learned from them about myself. The best of both of them runs through me, in my veins, my mind, my heart. But I also carry some of their baggage. They were not perfect (no one is!) and they carried their baggage in life, some of which I carried for them for a while, making it my own. I have to leave it behind or I cannot be me. I have to take that baggage, open it up, take a long hard look, learn from what's inside, close it up and leave it behind. The next volume of my life, the one that I live without my parents, depends on it.
I did that last night, during my Imbolc ritual. I let it all go, left it behind, weeded it out. In its place, I planted the seeds of the next volume of my life, one in which I help my son off onto his own path, create an empty nest life with my hubby, plant healing and nourishing gardens, write articles, essays and books, create a circle of magical and lifelong friends, guide others on the Pagan path, and allow the memory of my Mom and Dad to live on. In a haze of sage smoke and shimmering white candles, I saw this next volume of my life, laid out before me like a beautiful moss-filled path through a wonderland of trees, flowers, faces, and places and, although it was rocky in spots, had a few detours here and there, it felt right, looked right. It was all there for me, for those who wanted to walk it with me. I think I am quite ready for more of the adventure!
It's still snowing. I am warm and toasty by the radiator in my witchy kitchen with my steaming hot cup of herbal tea. I'll sit here a little while longer, enjoying my gift of time, watching. More bad weather is on its way this week so I will have more time to work on my house, the life in boxes, garden plans, and the next volume of my life. Winter is a time to rest, to dream, to envision, to plan, to await rebirth. I am doing just that. Spring will be here soon.