At this time each year I hibernate. For five weeks between November and Christmas I shut out the cold and wish away the long weeks which went so quickly when they cradled a child.
Grief overtakes me like the frost creeping over anything uncovered, its silvery chill frosting every path. If I stay indoors, if I keep the doors and windows tightly closed and let not a chink of cold air enter, I can survive this.
If I have to, I can swiftly open a window into those memories and suffer the blast of grief which overwhelms me until I force the door back against it. There is enough warmth inside to chase away the sudden cloud of cold and return the glow to my heart.
For an instant I can race outside and face it head on. Run barefoot round the park and back again, rubbing my frozen fingers back to life when I’m back in the warmth of those who understand.
But if I were to stay outside too long, lying down in a thin cotton dress and making angels in the snow, I would die from it. If I were to lie against the frozen earth until my breathing slowed and the hurt subsided, no amount of love would bring me back.
Maybe one day it will change; maybe one day I’ll place my palms flat on the icy road and take a lungful of frosty air. And it won’t hurt.
But for now I hibernate. And if you seek me out and find the door closed, if you speak to me and I turn away, I’m not avoiding you. I just can’t let the cold in yet.