During the second year of working as a ski instructor, I was called in to teach a private lesson to two children on Christmas Eve, previously I had these days off to spend with my own children, but if you don’t show up for your classes the resort will pull your ski pass and those of your entire family, as they are issued as a perk of the job.
Reluctantly, I arrived to find myself with a three year old boy and his four year old yellow haired cousin, Olivia.
I am very warm with kids, first of all they scare me a little, and because of this I have a great deal of respect for them, secondly, I have no boundaries with them, and I’ve never taught a class when they were not all sitting in my lap.
This day was no different, and from the time I met them they were holding my hand, and on the gondola the three of us occupied a foot and a half of the seat, if that.
I had been a ski school favorite my first year, earning the highest return rate of children they had ever seen. I would make sure all the boys got to ski their first black diamond, and for the girls I braided hair and tied knots in cellophane to secure the ends. If I only had one girl or boy in my class, I would take on an extra child so my student would have a friend, and of course I stopped for hot chocolate and cookies more than was necessary. After the first year, I was promoted to privates, but mostly taught adults.
These children skied very well for their age and were both teachable and naturally coordinated. We spent the morning on the lower runs working on our stops and turns. After an early lunch they wanted to build a fort, which I discouraged, telling them, we wanted their parents to be proud of them and see how much they had learned.
It was at this point the little boy told me his cousin’s mother had died. He said she had died of a disease in her blood.
This news shifted my focus entirely. As I spent the next four hours with them, the three of us cuddled on the lift, the three of us cuddled in a row on the bench outside drinking hot chocolate. I let them hug me, and pull my hair, and ski over the tops of my ski’s and so on. At 4:30 on the gondola down,they said that they couldn’t believe it was over, the day went by so fast, and I felt the same.
Of course, I had fallen in love with both of them, and my love for them spun around us, making the snowy Christmas Eve magical.
I’m starting to see love as the third entity in relationships. It is what is made when we love each other.
The next day, I saw them as I walked through the village with my own happy family. It was Christmas Day, and the little girl was out ice skating with her Dad. I passed by silently, grateful for my intact family.
And now here we are. I’m in Tahoe again, sorting through my storage bins. Sorting through my memories. Love is what lives in the space between us all, not something you give or that is taken from you. It is the subtle alchemy that exists when we open our hearts to each other.
Love and blessings.