The grass was wet and the steps were slippery, yet the fear of falling wasn’t with me. All I could think of were rats and the story my mother told us when we were younger about the boy in school who died from rabies.
My breath came out in fog wisps as I made my way to the barn. The last snow fall had melted away and that saddened me because I loved the snow so much. The moonlight shined down on the trees in the dark and made dripping icicles look like crystals.
I liked to be outside at night, especially in the winter, but the cold was so unbearable that my little bench under my favorite tree was not a place I could sit for too long. The barn (although most likely filled with diseased rats) was my best bet. I’d sit in there until just before the sun came up and read or write and think about things, usually things I didn’t quite understand.
I reached the barn and opened the door. I was careful to do it slowly so that I wouldn’t wake up my Aunt and Uncle. Our horse, Bessie, whinnied softly but she knew it was me so she didn’t fuss too much. I climbed up the ladder to the loft and hung my lantern up on a hook embedded in the low ceiling. At first I listened for the rats because they scared me so much. I couldn’t hear their scratching so I soon put them out of my mind.
I settled back in the hay and imagined the stars were painted on the ceiling. I missed my mother. She always took care of my sister and I no matter how hard it was. She loved winter too so whenever it came I would think of her. It wasn’t that my Aunt and Uncle were mean or anything. I just missed my mother.
I felt myself start to cry and before I knew it, I had sobbed myself to sleep. I dreamt of her then. Her and my sister and I.
I was very small and my red boots seemed huge on my feet. We were running through the snow and she was laughing. Her knit cap was a flash of color against the white. She gathered up a snow ball and threw it at me. I giggled as more flew at me and I struggled to make my own weapons of retaliation. Then there we were, lying on our backs doing jumping jacks and creating marvelous snow angels that God Himself would even have admired. Then we just laid there and talked for hours.
“Do you think real angels in Heaven make snow angels, Mama?” my sister’s small voice echoed.
“Of course, dear, ” she said. “It’s winter all the time in Heaven. And you can guarantee that the real angels see our snow angels and love them very much right now.”
Then she was in the hospital and angels were talked of again.
“Snow angels, Jessie,” Her voice was croaky. “Whenever you need me, make a snow angel and I will be there…”
I awoke instantly and gasped when I didn’t realize where I was at. The dream and the memory of my mother was still fresh in my mind. The oil in my lamp had died out but the light from outside shone on me through the tiny barn window. I couldn’t believe it was morning and that I had fallen asleep.
I climbed down and stepped into the dawn and noticed the snow gently falling. The ground was covered in ivory. The icicles on the trees were back. I felt a tear forming in my eye as the smell of my mother entered my heart but I brushed it aside. My mother sent me more snow. I knew it. There was no doubt in my mind.
I walked a few steps into an open clearing and laid down upon the white, cold dust. I made a snow angel all the while closing my eyes and telling my mother over and over again that I loved her. And when I was finished, I opened my eyes and saw her smiling face in the sky.
My mother was a snow angel and winter was all the time in Heaven if that’s the way you wanted it to be. And then I knew I would always be okay. Today and every day.
© Jennifer Patino (July 4, 2005)