His voice crackles with warmth, syllables settling into each other like embers; laughter sparking, suddenly.  I turn off the lamp, leaning into the phone as one would lean toward a blaze in winter.

My father’s friend has called unexpectedly on this cold night.  His short, measured sentences carry the length of their almost sixty years on the path together.  These two men are not colleagues, sportsmen, not even neighbors.  They are friends.  Memory and history have braided them together; a thoughtful tension between them is tinder for their fire.

Over the years, as they unwrapped their ideas, flayed open their failures, mused on their successes, they became more forthright, calling each other by their true names.  But, you are so different!, I exclaim, and he roars with laughter, so true it is.  That’s what makes it so interesting, his voice glowed.  I felt the  boundless night open.  Two uncommon souls, seeing each other with clear eyes, whole and against a wide sky, as Rilke put it.

The Solstice darkness bands across the heavens and holds us tight for these three days, gripping the sun.  It is the beginning of our winter.  Just now, the bells toll for Stephanie’s mother – pneumonia that can’t be cured, her lungs have given out, hospice is settling in.  I hear the news as though I am her mother’s daughter – so piercing and entwined have our stories grown.

What I need in the winter that is ahead is not merriness, exactly, nor even light, for I am content to live a while in the dark.  What I need is warmth.  The ways we bank against one another.  The way we huddle in under this cold band of darkness.

In my old friend’s voice, logs stack with memory.  He throws another one on the fire, full of feeling and affection. I think of you all every day. This is how the campfire is fueled.  We lean toward the fire of one another.   And there, against the great night sky, we see each other as we are, as we really are, lit up, at last, by love.


~ by Susan on 12/22/2010.

4 Responses to “A.Lit-up.Solstice.”

  1. a Beautiful Friendship, Susan. Thanks for sharing.

  2. susan – do I understand your writing correctly – has stephanie’s mother gotten worse? please let me know thank you. madeleine mcgee 708-3246 madmcg@comcast.net

  3. Oh dear Susan,
    this lights me up and warms my tear-weary soul. Yes, we lean into each other. Your father & his friend, you–my friend, we each to our parents and to the many who hold us up. Happy news is that my mom is now home, and settling in to this new reality of caretakers, cought-assist machines, bipaps, etc.

    The light returns after the dark solstice night.


  4. Susan,

    Just happened upon this site as I was looking up a reference related to Bill. Your words are beautifully crafted and moving. Know of my highest regard for all of the Hulls. A bit of irony as I gaze at the fire on this page, as tomorrow evening at our Christmas Eve service I will be referring to that Christmas morning that I discovered the Hulls on the roof avoiding the blaze on the first floor! Who knew that one day that skinny kid in the adjoining back yard would be employing that delightful episode as a sermon introduction???

    Best to you, and prayers for Bill.

    Keep writing.


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