I love November. The drop in temperature and the days leading up to Thanksgiving are my advent to Advent. Rain falls more freely and with each new drop holds the possibility of snow. It’s 30 days of gratitude. But November also signals gray skies and darkened evenings. And each day I drive down a dusky, wet street in Chicago I am whisked back to different times and places. And it all feels so real. So present, and if I let myself, I will feel things now from a different time.
I remember the cold evenings after school my sophomore year in high school. How dark it was on the bus ride home. How quiet and lonely our little townhouse felt. I remember seeing our next door neighbor going in and out of his house to the cars that drove by, pulled in front, and idled as he ran out and would hang into their passenger window. I remember hearing his mother yelling through the thin walls that she didn't want him dealing from the house. And I remember being scared until that day I was being hassled on the school bus and he told them to leave me alone or else. I never knew his name.
I remember the drive my junior year in the college shuttle from campus to that office building where the counselor was. And I remember being handed a paper for a prescription. It was the heaviest paper I had ever held as I wrestled with relief and sadness. And on the drive home, in the dark, I rested my head against the window and thought of my three jobs, my classes, my placements and I knew something had to give. And I dreaded making that phone call to tell my dad I needed to come home.
I remember my wedding that Saturday in November and how it was the one November day where the sun actually shined. We wed on a Saturday and flew to London that Monday. Our first home together and each night had dinner on the table, a glass of wine, and lit candles. It was a six month honeymoon. I miss those cold and damp London streets; they still feel like home.
I remember the last election, standing in line, Kathryn in stroller, my belly pregnant, and weight of the world on my shoulders. The Big Hurt coming to a head. Waves of sadness or hope could wash over me at any given moment. I had no idea how bad things were going to get. I had no idea how good things eventually would be. But that sadness sticks to me and I fight daily to peel it off and leave it at the Cross.
Today I will remember little Lucy, almost 18 months, learning to talk. Kathryn, hands raised in the back of the van, singing “Glory” at the top of her lungs so Jesus will hear her. Sophie, wearing her footie pajamas, cuddling with me, giving me kisses.
What will they remember? I don’t know. Maybe they’ll remember how the candle was always burning when we were home, or how morning smells like coffee. The way the flour and cocoa powder come together and become shiny in the bowl while making brownies. The pile of (sometimes) folded blankets at the end of the couch that we wrap ourselves in when watching movies. Looking out the bedroom window to see “the tallest building in America.” Meatballs simmering in a crockpot. Stacks of books and boxes of crayons.
026 - Being able to vote
027 - Ordering groceries online
028 - Singing with my girls on the drive home
029 - Pigtails, braids, and barrettes
030 - The hope that things will keep getting better