a warm twenty-sixth

by melissakiefer

This week I’ve been cold. Cold like an ache. Colder than normal.  That shiver-shake panicked cold I get when I’m still not warm and I’ve already tried toasting myself in a tanning bed and scalding myself in the bathtub and piling three blankets (one like a shawl, one wrapped around my legs like a cocoon, one draped around the other two). Cold. A cold that’s more than psychological but more than physical. A heart-chill. Soul-frost. Hell is fire? I think it’s a spirit, iced.

I almost didn’t meet my favorite sisterhood friends tonight because of my particularly uncomfortable cold scared sad day. Because goodbyes are hard. Goodbyes make me colder.


They kindled me, warmed me up, and thawed me back to life.  

I’m warm-content and happy now. I slipped on the gift of the softest sweater that wraps me in the comfort of friendship-grace. Warm like a birthday candle glow. My belly full of decadent cupcakes and coffee sipped from big white mugs. My quota of hug-like-you-mean-it hugs met, finally.    

We took a grand tour of a sisterfriend’s house—a home her family’s labored and mostly built themselves. A long process. Like this frustrating, gratifying life. They’re still building the fireplace in this home. The place where family will sit and warm toes and watch flames flicker-glow. So they’re fitting giant stones together to hold up other stones. And bonding them all tightly, securely. Like a group hug. Where I just lean. Because I think I might fall down.

ButI don’t. Because even with strained arms, we’re a sturdy bunch. Like rustic wooden beams. Like the pillars of the porch. Like the rocks making up the hearth that gives the warmth. The warmth.  

I’m twenty-six now. They’ve built me. They build me.