Snow swirled as the young woman shuffled forward, fighting to keep warm on this snowy white upon dark Christmas Eve. The cold night seemed to be winning as Patty traced a path on the sidewalk leading away from the dim illumination of town.
“I’m so miserable. I’ve got no one. Seems I’ve been put on this earth to suffer. Just doesn’t seem worth it to go on,” she thought, shivering as the cold biting wind pierced her loose tattered clothing.
Her frown gave way to tears as she kicked at the snow on the sidewalk, remembering parts of her painful and tormented past.
“Merry Christmas,” an older couple cheerfully blurted as they passed heading into town. She could barely look up and nod.
Patty sat on a cold wet park bench to rest. “Why do bad things always happen to me?” she wondered. “Everything’s hopeless.”
The utter emptiness and depth of her depression enveloped her in an even colder darkness. “Just don’t care anymore, I’m so tired,” she uttered.
An older man approached and sat beside her. “You appear to be upset. Are you OK?” he asked.
“Things aren’t going well for me right now,” she offered.
Patty’s shy nature would normally not allow her to talk to strangers, but weary and confused, she didn’t care. She figured she had nothing to lose.
“Sometimes I feel like life is just not worth the pain and suffering,” she said in a scratchy and broken voice. “I’m just tired of hurting, and the emptiness, the loneliness,” she cried, as she lowered her head into her hands.
“The depression, the utter hopelessness and despair. That’s a terrible feeling,” he agreed. “Perhaps you have a reason to feel as you do.”
“Have you ever felt this way?” Patty wanted to know.
“Yes,” he answered. “I lost someone once very dear to me. I saw only darkness and there were times I felt it would never end.”
“How did you get through it? How did you go on?” Patty asked.
“You just do,” he paused. “One day at a time. Each new day is another day that may be the day you find the answers you seek.”
“Right now I am just so confused,” Patty sighed.
“Ah, confusion,” he nodded. “Confusion is a signal you are about to learn something …”
“I need to go now,” Patty interrupted, pondering his statement and feeling uncomfortable.
“The answers are out there. I hope you find yours. Merry Christmas,” he said, rising from the park bench, helping Patty up and pointing her in the direction back towards town.
She walked slowly away continuing her painful journey, seemingly to nowhere.
Tired and confused, she cried out, “God, why am I alive? Why can’t you give me the things I need to make me happy. Nobody cares about me. Why can’t you give me what I need to be happy … why?” she cried, “why?”
Minutes later as she approached some retail shops next to the sidewalk, the snow stopped and the late evening skies cleared to reveal a bright full moon illuminating the cold night. It took all the energy Patty had to continue on, slowly, step by step.
“I wish I had what it took to be happy. Oh God, if you can’t give me what I need to live, well, then I just can’t go on any longer. I just can’t.”
By this time, her shallow and scratchy voice was barely audible, her freezing cheeks and eyes reddened with pain.
She stopped, unable to go another step, and grabbed onto an old unlit streetlight pole.
“I just want something that can stop the pain. If only I could find what I need to do that.”
“Someone please help me,” Patty’s cry for love echoed.
Looking into the Christmas Eve night sky she pleaded, “if anyone can hear me, tell me how do I go on? How do I go on? Please. I’m so confused.”
Resting her head against the pole, she stared straight ahead into the store window a few feet away.
Moments passed and within her dazed and weary mind a single thought thundered forward. A warmth went through her as she suddenly realized that a few feet in front of her, in the large plate glass store window, was the answer she so desperately searched for.
The reality of that one simple yet profound thought overwhelmed her. Somehow it all made sense now. So simple yet so powerful, a genuine breakthrough. Right in front of her was the clear revelation that had overcome her. There, in the window, was the moonlit reflection of herself.
She stood there hypnotized by the reflective vision, her own silhouette looking back at her. She stared in awe, realizing that she had indeed been given what she needed to survive and find happiness. She needed only to accept the Christmas gift that was right there before her eyes.
Off in the distance, Patty heard the faded sound of church bells ringing, proclaiming the joy and the meaning of the season. After a few moments, with tears in her eyes, she gave thanks.