i am sitting here on my couch with a cozy blanket wrapped around me. the fire in the wood stove to my right is popping and crackling, as the cedar begins to glow a deep orange hue. candles are lit all around me creating a soft flicker in my living room. to my left i hear the wind howling, making the rose bushes just outside the window brush up against it. dolly sits atop my feet, warming my toes, and eddie sleeps behind me, on the back of the couch, softly breathing in my ear. faintly from the kitchen, i hear my refrigerator humming. i feel my body relaxing the day, the week, away as i summon peacefulness. the house is very still, almost too still. a stark contrast to the times when this home has hosted many of our friends. i am anticipating the sound of ryan’s truck rumbling up the driveway with the final thud of the door closing so that i can share in his company. a cup of peppermint tea is steeping next to me, awaiting my sip, as i take time to sense and feel all that surrounds me in this moment.