Over the past several years his strength has been waning; his physical integrity has been declining. With a sense of quiet desperation, I fear our friend will soon leave us. Due to the mild nature of this year's winter, he's held on, but we all know it's just a matter of time until our beloved friend bites the dust.
We knew the relationship couldn't last forever, but our friend has been with us longer than we have had our children--he has become a part of us--and this protracted goodbye, this prolonged mourning, is agonizing.
Oh, we've looked around for a replacement, but none of the others even comes close to the perfection we have found in our treasured friend: our snow shovel.
We've spent countless hours together, the shovel and I, pushing the snow across the driveway--no, three driveways--over the years. There is something so satisfying about this simple, mindless activity: something so calming and meditative about methodically clearing snow. My progress is both noticable and measurable: I can see where I've been and what I've accomplished, in the straight rows of bare pavement left in my wake. Precious little else in my life shows success so plainly.
Shoveling is a process that cannot be rushed, and as my body moves: scrape, scoop, shovel, scrape, push, the frantic quality of my thoughts clears. The weight of the snow grounds me; the crisp, cold air chases my anxieties and worries away. For those few moments of shoveling, all is well with the world. I am useful; I am strong.
And my shovel, my partner in meditation, is losing its edge. Quite literally. After over a decade of searching and failing, I fear that I will never find another so perfect. And so today, I grieve for the final goodbye that is to come.