Despite all the glitter and candles and lights, this season can be so dark.
On Sunday morning I drove my husband to the airport for a pre-dawn flight in a fog so thick we felt enveloped in cotton. Luckily, when I merged meekly onto the highway, we were not far behind a cautious driver whose taillights I could just make out in the wrap-around gauze. We followed those two red dots of light all the way to the airport turnoff.
My husband told me later that right after the plane took off the air cleared—the fog below looking to him like a heavy frost.
On my way home, inching along at 30 miles an hour, I turned the radio on for solace and picked up a show–it’s also a podcast I sometimes listen to, called On Being. Host Krista Tippett was interviewing Jennifer Michael Hecht, a nonfiction writer, teacher, and poet. The name of this episode: “Suicide, and Hope for our Future Selves.”
Hecht has written deeply about suicide in her book, Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It. I have never felt suicidal but I know plenty of people who have. And I have struggled with black moods and unrelenting grief and the dull ache that the fog will never lift. Hecht recommends writing a letter to oneself when feeling upbeat and reading it when the darkness descends, a reminder that you won’t always feel this way.
Do listen to the show if any of this resonates for you.
I thought of Hecht’s letter writing to self when I drove to the airport to pick up my husband two days later. Sun blazed through the windshield. Cars sped along under the cerulean blue sky.
What a different journey–this airport trip.