I will admit it's a bit disheartening. Looking outside and seeing families bundled in bright colors, diligently working to clear snow from relevant surfaces. I work alone, frowning over my shovel and smiling proudly when my snowblower clears the way.
Adding insult to injury, Chienne enjoys hopping over her gate and running away, prancing around the neighborhood and greeting the families outside. See, I think to myself, even the most faithful of companions remains with me from necessity alone.
So while I didn't mind asking Doug for help after deciding the sidewalks would be far too hard, I did feel a certain sense of failure over my inability to handle the details of the life I've chosen.
We talked that night and he sounded tired. He agreed to help, of course, but noted it would have to be late the next day, after he handled the responsibilities of his own life and choices. I frowned at the very idea, bristling against the thought of adding my burden to his and decided I would clear the sidewalks alone even as I despaired at the depth of the drifts.
I worked from home again, taking calls and tending to tasks and steeling myself to face the cold. My mood was aided by the bright sunshine when I emerged and I squared my shoulders and made my most determined face and cheered above the rumble of the snowblower when we began to make progress through the waist-high snow. I returned to the house having finished 3/4 of the sidewalk, preening with pride but tired from the shoveling and shoving and snow.
Doug, I decided, could do the smallest portion by the picket fence. But after finishing more work, I set out again, walking the snowblower up to my neighbor's driveway and pushing downhill toward my house. It was slow going - rocking the bin up and down to break through the wall of snow- backing up and moving forward and leaning on the machine to add my weight to gravity as we inched forward, spewing snow.
I reversed again, deciding to get a running start at the immovable 5 feet that remained between me and the driveway and promptly fell on my bottom when the wheels spun. I giggled after deciding I was unhurt, looking around at the walls of snow that surrounded me, unable to see the street or my yard in my soft, white cocoon. Unable to make additional progress, I reversed up the hill and walked in the street until I reached my driveway.
"So close," I muttered, squinting what remained between me and victory. So I shoveled and dug and started the snowblower once again. And in my urge to finish - to win - I pushed too hard and the chute atop my friendly snowblower popped off against the presssure of the snow.
I nearly wept, so horrified was I to have harmed my only ally.
I brought the machine back to the garage and downloaded the manual, finally understanding how to repair my injured buddy. Once healed, we returned to the small mound that was left and completed our work. A person could walk down my sidwalk, surrounded by snow and without much room on the path, but I had completed a route. And though I panted with exhaustion and stretched against the ache in my back, I felt ridiculously proud.
Patting the snowblower fondly, I returned to my house. And the dog I locked inside.
After a difficult meeting at work on Friday, I felt like a miserable failure and came home to have a panic attack. My heart raced, hands trembled and I couldn't catch my breath. I frantically googled relaxation techniques and finally calmed myself with the realization that life can be hard. And I can move past it.
Today I felt tired and a little sad. But I walked the dog, smiling as she tried to peer over the mounds of snow. I ran some errands. I came home to do some work. Then I called my pastor to arrange a lunch next week. I read a beautiful sermon that brought me a sense of peace and purpose. And nodded upon reading a bit of 2 Corinthians. "The Lord told Paul, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'"