A mind of winter
WASHINGTON — It was around 8 o’clock on a recent Monday night, and my husband was yelling at the neighbors.
“Jackie! Kate! Jackie! Kate!”
“Honey, they can’t hear you.”
“The lights are on.”
“Yes,” I agreed. “Because it’s only 8 o’clock, and they aren’t 90. But they’re likely watching TV.”
This was the last leg of our walk in a gentle but persistent snowstorm. A half-hour earlier, Sherrod had looked out the front window and began lobbying.
“Look, it’s not bad at all.”
“It’s been snowing for hours,” I said.
“You like snow,” he said.
“I’m leaving tomorrow morning,” he said.
“Franklin and Walter need this walk,” he said. “Look at them.”
I glanced down at our two rescue dogs, each of whom was doing his version of (SET ITAL)pick me, pick me, pick me.(END ITAL) Franklin was rattling the windows with his bellowing bark. Walter was leaping into the air like a Muppet projectile. Add Sherrod to the mix and I was the only one not wagging a tail.
“Fine,” I said, reaching for my boots. “We’re going for a walk.”
It was one of those nights when everything touched by snow glistened under the streetlights. The snow softened every sound, and as we walked, we talked, mostly about why he had to leave so early the following morning.
But I don’t want to tell you about that. Not yet.
Jackie and Kate are two of my oldest friends — we’ve known one another for three decades — and they adopted Sherrod when we were married in 2004. We live in this Cleveland neighborhood because they do. More to the point, they wouldn’t give up insisting that we join them until we finally did, seven years ago.
One of my greatest comforts in life is knowing that these two wonderful women are only seven houses away. Theirs is the kind of marriage that radiates outward to bless everyone lucky enough to know them. If I said that to them, they would mercilessly mock me. I love that about them, too.
There we were, standing in the street in front of their house. Sherrod would not be denied. He handed me Franklin’s leash and started pummeling their front storm door with snowballs.
With every thump, I warned him.
Thump. “Jackie will have your head for this.”
Thump. “I think I see her.”
Thump. “Uh-oh. Here she comes.”
Sherrod paused. “She just turned right. Where is she going?”
“She’s probably walking to the dining room window to see if she needs to call the police.” (Jackie later confirmed this.)
Sherrod scooped up more snow and packed it into a ball. “Jackie!” he yelled and hurled it at the door.
The porch light went on, and the door opened. There was Jackie with her hands on her hips, laughing.
The following morning, Sherrod headed for Washington as the U.S. Senate prepared for the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. As one of its 100 members, he is on the jury hearing evidence from the scene of the crime.
This week, millions of Americans have learned right along with the senators just how endangered they were on Jan. 6 when white nationalists stormed the Capitol. We’ve seen, for the first time, security video footage that illuminates their savagery, but also the heroism of police officers who endured brutal attacks as they protected others.
When I think I can’t take any more, I think of that snowy night, when we walked and talked about how this trial, while necessary, would be painful for so many. Not just for those who lived it but for everyone who would soon feel the gut-punch of understanding just how close the traitors came to harming, and perhaps killing, members of Congress and their staff.
I was worried about Sherrod, as I so often am now. But I am also the wife who stood in the street and watched her husband throw snowballs with the joy of a kid who just found out tomorrow will be a snow day. Life is always more than its worst moments.
I didn’t know until after Sherrod had left for Washington that Jackie had posted a photo of the splats of snow on their door on Facebook. She did not disclose the vandal’s name, which disappointed Sherrod. Like many 9-year-old boys, he aspires to be the best snowball thrower in the land.
As a consolation prize, a framed photo of his conquest now hangs in our living room. It will always remind us that, even in these hardest of times in our country, we still found moments of joy.
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Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. She is the author of two non-fiction books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. She is also the author of The New York Times bestselling novel, “The Daughters of Erietown.” To find out more about Connie Schultz (email@example.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.