A Christmas Gift

Driving through the country roads towards the small town where I lived, in the last evening light, my mind was ticking off the items on my to-do list when an old but familiar voice softly crooned on the radio. Jolted from my thoughts, I reached for the dial and turned the sound up, fingertips lingering on the knob while a wistful smile crossed my face. “Do you hear what I hear? Ringing through the sky shepherd boy.” My cowboy was singing, not just for me but for everyone.

The setting sun was glistening off the lightly falling snow and the meadow in front of me looked perfectly arranged for a winter wedding; late blooms of color peeking out of the new snow, circles of evergreen giving promise of new life, and the fresh, white snow signaling a brand-new start. A sob formed in my chest and unexpected tears slipped down my cheeks, I quickly brushed them away as if it could ease the sudden ache that had formed in the center of my heart, the place where he began and ended.

I was sadly proud of him. In the years that we had spent apart, he had made a name for himself and shared his beautiful gift of song with the world. It was what he dreamed about and that made it my dream too. I hadn’t known then what I would be giving up now. But isn’t that the way the world goes? It was subtle, a week away, then two, a month here and there. Not unlike his life before only different. Too late we realized how much had changed and then, you really can never go back.

My thoughts returned to the deep whiskey melody filling my car. Maybe it was fate, hearing him on the radio, singing my favorite Christmas song after all these years. Maybe he hadn’t even remembered it was my favorite song. Either way, our life together had not worked out. But I found happiness anyway. I hoped with all my heart that he had too. And, I would always cherish my memories of him, my sweet cowboy.

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