The ice-crusted snow crunched underfoot. Why is this such a satisfying affair, this traipsing through purest white, diamond crusted hills? The expanse of the golf course was dotted with little milky-blue, shadowy dots from the feet of those who had gone before with the same bright idea. This is something that doesn't happen, ever, where I live. We Nashvillians have to take advantage of how snow briefly transforms our world. My face was warm from the exertion in my body and from the sun that came from below as well as above. Glad to be alive, to be breathing good air, and to be working the ol' legs. My train of thought went to the track of Tom Howard, who was probably walking through similarly lovely snow when his feet suddenly left the ground.
Back inside, I needed to hear some new (old) tunes. I put on the Medusa album. Annie Lennox crooned "Some people never say the words I love you, it's not their style to be so bold; Some people never say the words I love you, but like a child, I'm longing to be told. They've got a wall in China......" and I couldn't stop thinking of Tom. He was a walking encyclopedia of music (and other useless and hilarious trivial bits). My thoughts wandered to how much he probably loved cover albums like this one. He was a champion of the classics but also of musical innovation. His absence, I find, is coloring everything a slightly different shade these days.
The brittle needles fell freely like pearls from a broken string as I wrangled the garland from the mantel over our "fireplace." It's February.....high time, I suppose, to take down Christmas deckings. But I did persist with the lights. I put them back up, sans greenery, and tied little strips of red-ringed tissue paper to the string. Tiny, wispy paper bows. I thought of Tom's daughter, Katie, who I believe worked at Anthropologie, the store I dearly love and where I got and then hoarded the delightfully patterned paper I was presently tying into neat little knots. Tom always said he thought we should meet, his daughter and I. Two artists, "two cool chicks," he said, two girls with sizable measures of independence and moxie. My heart hurts especially for her tonight. I don't dare try to imagine what she is going through.
Oh, how we deeply miss him. How I pray for his family, and how I smile when I remember who he was and what he meant to my family and to me. On this chilled evening, with the sky bleeding from musty, warm pink back to its genuine inky indigo outside our windows, in so many homes where mundane pieces of life are happening, Tom is in so many broken hearts, swirling minds and salty tears tonight. He is here with us in these palpable ways, yes, but what a bracing comfort it is to know that he is now in the company of Someone Else in the most full, satisfying and eternal of ways.