Just a Walk In The Park

 December 2007.

” Now is the winter of our discontent.” ~William Shakespeare

I stumbled down Kingshighway feeling more like a peasant than a king. The cold wind tore through my coat chilling me to the bone. Crossing Lindell I passed the Chase Park plaza. The old hotels architecture and beauty was still magnificent. Christmas décor adorned the windows and shops. The entire cityscape was festive, but the gargoyles sitting atop the building seemed to mock me. 

I walked another half block to Straubs and bought a hot coffee. I would do anything to escape the confines of the hospital even for a short period of time. It had been a second home for more than 6 months. My daughter was fighting cancer and it was taking a toll on her body. The last inpatient chemotherapy before the holidays, she would get a break physically and mentally. My soon to be ex-wife and I were preparing for what would be our final Christmas together. Hopes and dreams still lived in the child’s mind. I wished for the Christmas spirit, but found only pain. I found it hard to be positive and inspirational when paralyzed by fear. I was walking numbly through life.

Tree’s barren of leaves were splashed with white Christmas lights, the cold wind bent them and the lights flickered. Wreaths and garland decorated doorways. Commerce continued at a rapid pace in the stores and shops around the central west end. I felt like, and was for all intents and purposes only a financial tool. The only thing my ex and I shared was a wallet. My marriage died in June of that year. Our corpses continued the façade through the holidays. We tried to purchase a sense of normalcy & happiness for our daughter, son and for ourselves. In retrospect my ghost of Christmas past.

Warming my hands with the coffee, I waited for the walk sign at the busy intersection and crossed the road to the entrance of Forest Park. I walked slowly while my mind raced. The late afternoon sky was giving way to nightfall. From the road I could see the eerie silhouette of the Children’s hospital shrubbery that had been trimmed in to topiary of various animals and covered with white Christmas lights. It was one more illusion in my uncertain world.

The crisp air was both exhilarating and painful. It mimicked the atmosphere of a hospital holiday season. I walked down an incline overlooking the Steinberg ice rink. Healthy kids skated and fell on the slick ice while bonfires burned in the background. A stark contrast to what was occurring less than a mile away.

I walked on drawn by the light of the fires. I heard a noise from behind and turned to see a mounted policeman on horseback. Norman Rockwell would have loved the sight. Perhaps in normal times I would have appreciated the scene myself. He stopped to ask if I were ok. I explained my odd walk in the park and we exchanged pleasantries. The clomping of the horses hooves on the cement added to the atmosphere as he headed back to the stables near the planetarium. The echo of the sound faded as the light diminished and darkness over took daylight. I watched mindlessly the beauty of young skaters as they made it look so easy and effortless.

Large wet flakes of snow began to fall. They danced in the light of the fire at first, and then began to melt as they hit the still warm ground. I turned to make my way back to the hospital.

The snowflakes began to stick in my facial hair as I walked. A car pulled up beside me. The mounted policeman motioned me inside. He gave me a ride back to the Hospital.

Three years have passed. My daughter after a brief remission, passed as well. My marriage ended as surely as I knew it had that day. We had a final Christmas together for which I am thankful. I still find it to be surreal, but I can now write about it, I am thankful for this as well.

As I typed away it dawned on me, life is like a walk in the park. It has it’s exhilarating times, low points, and if we are lucky, a few Rockwell moments to be remembered. And much like the walk, while it seems long and full of obstacles’ it goes by much too fast.

©JK Dark onthedarkside.wordpress.com

 “Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.” ~ Isak Dinesen

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~ by onthedarkside on December 13, 2010.

6 Responses to “Just a Walk In The Park”

  1. I’m thankful you have your writing. If I was there I’d give you a big hug. Thanks for allowing me to look through one of the windows of your life.

  2. Just beautiful, Kevin! It was like walking in the park along side you. Beautiful imagery!

  3. I think Jim G and the others expressed very well what I feel. This entry moves me. You are suddenly familiar after months of holding yourself at a distance. Please continue to reveal to us who are not lucky enough to have known you since childhood.

  4. So well written Kevin. What a blessing to have the gift of expression!

  5. I could follow those steps blindfolded, spent many weekends of my youth at Steinberg Rink. Happy times, but I know what you were going through on those cold days. It was a different landscape. Poignant rememberance. You captured it very well.

  6. This is the first time I have read something of yours, It was beautiful and heartfelt.

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