Out in the Cold

It was a cold day. Frigid with the kind of wind that blows the clouds in front of the sun and drives your chin to your chest.  Margaret hates the wind.  It is devastating to my timid girl that an invisible force can tear at her clothes and run through her hair. Riley was home and there were errands to run so I tried to turn the day into a game. I held her and as the air moved around us we danced or ran. I told her the wind was just teasing her and asked her to laugh at it. And she humored me. She really did. She let me dance, shouted WHEEE! when I ran and tried to giggle when I laughed. But then a strong gust would strike us and it was cold and invasive and not really funny at all. And then she would whimper into my neck and I would run inside. The sky was had turned a darker gray by the time we pulled into Walmart.  Riley sang along with the Punch Brothers, our babies were asleep and I was trying to decide if we had enough money for the hair gel I wanted. A little family of three stood on the corner. The man and woman were wrapped in layers and mittens. She kept her eyes to the ground. His met each car that passed. And in between them, a stroller with a girl younger than Margaret. She was covered with blankets and scarves and her mama kept wrapping them around her. As a mother, I knew her thoughts. Maybe this one is warmer. Maybe this one is too itchy. Maybe wrap them around her one more time and then they will be tight enough to keep the chill off of my baby's skin. Her Daddy held a sign that said, Anything will help. Anything.

So we stopped. And I went to them with what I had.  When I got back in the car Riley asked, How much did you give them? And I said, All of it. But what I should have said was, Not enough. And we went on with our day. I ran into the store with Margaret and Riley followed with Viola. There was no money for hair gel now, but there was plenty for the the formula and the apples and the cereal. We ran back to the warmth of our car and drove away. Riley wasn't singing anymore. He turned the car around and took that little family a little more of our little money. When I asked him, How much did you give them? He said, The rest of it. But I knew what he wanted to say was, Not enough.

And then we left that family and we left that little girl and we went home.

I stayed up late that night. Listened as the screen door slammed in the wind, watched the trees move against the night and thought of them. Thought of a mommy that couldn't keep her little girl warm because the cold stole in no matter how tightly she wrapped her  up. Thought of a man that had held his daughter the day she was born and whispered, I am going to give you everything. And of that same man, on a frozen day, holding a sign asking for anything.

My girls were asleep in their beds and my husband breathed next to me and the wind blew. And I knew.

I hadn't done enough.