I was sixty-one years old when I froze to death in my sleep. It was so cold that year -- coldest in my memory. Snow seem to fall until forever and piled so high it covered my head like a bonnet. The wind swam through the cabin like an otter in the river. It sang and it whistled as it went through the cracks between logs and mud that made up the walls and the rags Marie stuffed in them to keep it out. A part of me didn’t mind the company. The sound was welcome from the silence the snow had brought. Nobody going to fields in the morning, no children to watch in the afternoon and nobody to gossip with after supper. If it wasn’t for the wind carrying the smell of burning wood I wouldn’t have known anybody else was alive. The feel of the wind had become more familiar to me than my own skin. How long had it been this way? How long had it been since I had felt warm -- heat down beneath my skin seeping into my bones like ink spilt on paper. I had been cold long before this freeze.Maybe it wasn’t the cold from the blizzard that killed me. Maybe it was something else. Sometimes you get so old and so tired and death is more familiar to you than the smell of your own breath. You forget that you’re supposed to fight it, to close your door to it because you grow old and see it everywhere -- in dogwoods that lose their scent, brown and fall to the ground, in the squeak of the chicken before you wring its neck, in the now-empty place where you once met your friends to talk, in the space where your man used to sleep and in the widening eyes of your children when they are taken away from you. You forget death is the enemy and you open your door because it outlasted everything else and it was always there, and reliable in its own way. It can’t hurt you. It just waits until the living gets to be too much.
*to read the remainder, please read Voices Magazine, issue 1
Causes Lenore Harris Supports
CinnamonGirl Inc. - provides mentoring to young women of color