Although trivial, where I live we don’t get cold much. For this I am glad, because I am cold intolerant. That doesn’t mean I hate the cold; I just can’t handle it. People I used to know would joke, saying I needed warmth because my heart was frozen. I laugh at that. It’s really kinda funny.
But really, I don’t know why I can’t handle the cold. I used to be invincible, but age has brought me weakness.
I think most kids assume they can’t be killed. ‘Flying’ from the couch arm, making daring 5-foot jumps from a bike ramp over a gravel driveway, or standing by a window during a fierce storm.
Because while we are afraid, we don’t think we are going to die. Not until something shows us otherwise.
For me, that came in the form of a friend. She was just a few years older than me, and she had cancer.
As children, we are taught everything has a ‘happily ever after’ ending. And so when I was told the doctors had informed her family they were unsure if she was going to survive the next operation, I shrugged it off. She was a good girl, always smiling, and always positive. There was no way she wouldn’t pull through.
That’s when I discovered real life is not a movie. Things happen with no obvious reason, and we are forced to deal with it one way or another.
I was 7-years-old when she died. But even then, after I cried the loss, it didn’t set in. I didn’t believe it. Because I never saw her, I didn’t have proof that she was dead. Only that she wasn’t there.
Years later, my family and I were invited over by her family to have a play day. I was 13. The truth only hit me fully on that day, after seeing the house. There were pictures of her, in her room, or in the hospital bed, always smiling.
Her sister saw me staring at one picture on the fridge. She approached me and said, “They say she looked like my twin, except she was much more sickly.” The past tense was obvious. And knot formed in my stomach.
The full realization that it wasn’t just a bad dream, but that the girl I knew and admired was taken from this world. I cried hard that night, all the grief that had been held back all those years finally broke loose.
And that’s when I knew that no one was invincible. Not even kids.
I mentioned before that it doesn’t often get cold here. Nevertheless, right now there is snow falling outside. For the first time this winter.
I smile, for it is a lovely thing. But also a dangerous one for me.
“Will you go sledding with me tomorrow?” asks one of the kids that live here.
“No, it’s cold.” I hug him, and send him to bed. Because he doesn’t understand, the things that bring him joy are also things that can kill me.
I used to be invincible, or so I had once thought. I now know that wasn’t true. Even still, growing up has shown me how weak I really am. But I would rather see things for what they are, than continue to walk in the blind.
I shall stay inside tomorrow, admiring the winter from the safety of the house.