Thursday, December 31, 2009


The New Year's Eve that Colby was ten it snowed. Big, fat, silent flakes drifted from the sky and by early evening most Nashvillians were either tucked away safely in their homes, or already at their chosen celebratory location. On our street, in our neighborhood, not a single car had gone by since the snow began that afternoon. By eight, there was a good five inches of snow on the ground and we decided to go for a walk.

Outside the silence was stunning. Cocooning, if there is such a word. On the west side of town not a hint of freeway traffic could be heard. Not a door slamming, no voices, no planes. Not that it was a particularly noisy neighborhood where we lived then, but there were always city sounds in the background. Not so tonight. We walked down the sidewalk and when we reached the street we turned right. We started on the side of the street, but as it became apparent that we had the entire neighborhood to ourselves, we moved into the center with the crunch of our feet in the snow making the only sound we heard.

Colby and I marveled that the only tracks we saw were our own. Not even a dog or a rabbit had ventured out before us. And while most of our walk was in complete silence, on the way back, when we doubled over our own tracks, Colby said he hoped all the people and animals without homes had found a place to stay that night. Then he offered his room to anyone we might pass who was shivering in the snow, and I began to cry. While the chances were very slim that we'd come across anyone, Colby's offer was made in earnest. I was reminded once again what a gift Colby was, not just to me, but to everyone he met.

That New Year's Eve was by far my favorite of all my many new years. When we got home, we made hot chocolate and watched movies until it was time for Colby to open the door, run around the yard, bang on a few pots and yell "Happy New Year!" And, for the most part, it was. Although he had some problems, Colby's mental illness had not yet fully reared its ugly head. Today, I remember that magical night fondly. Like Colby, it was a gift, a treasure, and it reminds me that the best things in life truly are free.

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