Once, when I was five, a snow storm came overnight and lingered into the morning. We lived on the farm then, and for some reason I can’t recall, my mother and father set out up the lane in my father’s Chevrolet pickup, leaving me in the care of my grandmother. I dragged a ladder back chair to the front door and stood on it, so I’d be tall enough to look out the glass. I watched the back end of the truck slide a little in the deep snow before finding purchase and going on. My father turned onto the County Line Road, and I was still watching when the truck, nearly to the crossroads, slid into the ditch.
I still remember the sight of my parents walking back up the lane, heads bent against the force of the snow, my mother’s scarf tied beneath her chin, the skirt of her dress flapping around her legs, the bill of my father’s cap dusted with snow, his cheeks red from the cold.
Although I didn’t know it, then, this must have been one of the first times when I sensed that my parents lived inside imperfect bodies. They’d tried to move through space and failed. I didn’t know, as I felt the cold they carried back into our home, that this was only one of their many rehearsals for leaving this world.
Now I think of their footprints in the lane, proof that they once walked upon this Earth—those footprints disappearing even as I celebrated my parents’ return, all sign of them filling in with snow.