First time I’ve slept on snow. I am so captivated by firsts.
Angel’s life lesson(s). I’ve known Angel since kindergarten. His father hit the road when Angel was a baby and never looked back. Angel was that child, raised by a single mom. With the cards stacked against him, he dreamed. Dreamed of a beautiful wife , two kids (a boy and a girl), a big house with a pool, a corvette . He had it figured out at an age when wet dreams were still confusing to me.
Being raised by a single mom, growing up in poverty, didn’t prevent Angel from knowing what he wanted. He talked about it all the time. As with all things that matter, the want was vivid enough to become a reality.
So it was then, that sometime in our thirties I visited Angel, his beautiful wife (Annette), his two children (a boy & girl) . I walked past his yellow corvette parked in his circular driveway in front of his huge home. We sat in his oak hot tub overlooking his black bottom pool and talked of success. The redwood decking surrounding the pool and deck was artfully exquisite . I inquired as to the name of the obviously gifted craftsman. He answered , Gustavo ! Gustavo, another boyhood friend. Gustavo had arrived later in our lives from Mexico. We taught him how to be American and he taught us how to be Mexican. Gustavo was handsome at an age when I was still confused by wet dreams.2
Angel! I exclaimed , how much did Gustavo charge for building such a beautiful deck ? Nothing , he replied, Gustavo had done it for free. Free ! What a wonderful friend. Gustavo.
Christmas of that same year I stopped in to visit Angel. The corvette sat listing to the left with a flat tire. The huge house had no Christmas lights, the house was as dark as the cold December night. After ringing the doorbell , knocking on the door and then repeating , a light at the far end of the house came on. I peered thru the door and watched as the shadow of Angel lumbered to the door. Still in bathrobe , unshaven uncombed hair, he opened the door. He stood there in worn out slippers , bloodshot eyes and hopeless demeanor .
Angel , what the hell, its 4 o’clock in the afternoon , it’s Christmas Eve.
Without hesitation he began to share a tale of woe. Perhaps as much to tell the tale as for me to hear it. All the these years the reciting of the tale still brings tears to my eyes, so I will abbreviate it here.
Annette had left him for Gustavo and taken the kids.
The deck work hadn’t been for free. There is always a cost. Often perhaps not immediately due.
Angel was devastated.His first Christmas without Annette and the kids.
Sensing the deep depression within my friend I decided to share a tale of hope. A tale of firsts. I began by reminding him how lucky he was.... To which he looked at me with disbelief .. With a voice nearing tears he asked, “did you not hear me? Annette left me,this is my first Christmas alone.”
Yes, I replied , I heard you , but...
“ You are so lucky . Imagine if you will, meeting her. She is waiting in your future. She is going to share that first kiss with you. Do you remember that first kiss. The moment you look into her eyes and lean forward for that first kiss. The sensation of touching her lips, the taste of her mouth, the scent of her perfume.. you are going to have that moment again.... You are lucky“
First time pitching a tent in the snow, in the dark , in the cold. Tired, cold, hungry. It’s been drizzling all day. A 5 mile Snowshoe to the edge of Crater Lake yielded a view of an enormous expanse of fog. This is what it must be like to peer into the abyss.
Firsts. First Holy Communion . Forgive me Father for I have sinned. Hail Mary full of Grace.....
Tomorrow the sun is going to shine and the views of Crater Lake will be spectacular . I have no doubt , I will have “that moment again”.