Twice I have been cold in a way that aches. It is a cold that you feel in the marrow of your bones. A cold that makes your body curl into a fetal position so that you might find some warmth you didn't know was there. It is a cold that makes your soul feel like it will shatter into a million pieces.
The first time was the night my dear aunt (of Wanda's Stripper Dip fame) passed away. I had not gone on vacation with my parents to visit her, which was divine intervention. After hanging out with friends, in the wee hours of the night I went to bed. As I pulled the sheets to my chin, I felt ice running through my veins. My teeth began chattering uncontrollably to the point I thought they would break. I struggled to get warm, but there was none to be had. Eventually I drifted off to sleep, but tossed and turned the rest of the night.
Shortly after I woke the next morning, I heard the garage door open. My parents weren't due home until the next day, so I was more than surprised to see the car in the driveway. My mother came in very ill, and my brother followed, silently, behind her. My father came in with arms outstretched walking toward me. As he wrapped them around me, he said, "Aunt Wanda is gone." The rest is a blur, but I do remember my dear neighbor, who passed away a few years ago, taking me out on the porch for a cigarette and a beer. Apparently he thought that's what his underage neighbor needed, and he was right. A marlboro red and a busch beer...I'll never forget him or those.
I realized later that day that she passed about the same time my cold chill happened. I prefer to believe it was her passing by me on her way to greater places. I know she would not leave this world without saying goodbye in some form or fashion.
Remember that scene in Coal Miner's Daughter where Sissy Spacek tells the audience she is overwhelmed and life's been happen' too fast, then she looks out into the audience for Doo, her husband, to come get her off the stage? I know what that feels like. One night, when life was moving way too fast, I climbed into my bed, jacked the electric blanket to 10, and wished for some shred of warmth. I found none. I realized it was time to slow down. I wasn't a kid anymore, and I needed to take care of things in my life. I cleaned house, so to speak, starting the next day.
My grandfathers and my aunt had all passed by this point, so I'm not sure which one was looking out for me. I know I was burning my candle at both ends, and I would've soon crashed. It doesn't matter which one it was, really; They all roost upon my shoulders at different points.
Some people walk this earth with a guardian angel they've never known, but I know mine. They walked me through life up to different points, holding my hand while still pushing me into independence. Sometimes I sense them there, so I say hello. If it creeps me out, I ask them to leave. Sometimes I need to be alone without them, but they're always in the wings...looking, waiting, ready to swoop in and nest on my shoulders so I am never truly alone...and will never be for the rest of eternity.