Frank Carroll


It’s the day after Christmas and I’m still reeling from the feeling that we just did this. Didn’t we just do this? Tree. Presents. Family. Wasn’t that just last month? I haven’t Wostered-out in terms of age, but I’m sure I was just doing this. And it’s going to happen again next month. It used to take a year, a very long year, between Christmas and the next Christmas. Now, I just get used to the new year date and it all changes.

An old friend I haven’t talked to since 1977 told me about her life and children and the death of her wonderful sister. Our visit picked up where it left off just a little while ago. It’s like a very long day just passed, she said. Forty years is a long day, a very long day that was here and gone in a slow-motion sunrise, sunset. My memories of Christmases past are as vivid and as meshed as my memories of endless days and nights fighting fire. I thought they’d never end.

Maybe life is a freeway; we enter on the on-ramp and we’re swallowed like squirrels in traffic and then we exit, and it’s seamless. The make and model of the cars change but the love and wonder just grow and grow. We don’t exit at the same time, but we all make it off at just the right moment.

It was a month of remembering and refining old gold. My friends in Santa Fe spent the afternoon at lunch with my sister and me. We’ve known each other since we were 12 years old. She was the only girl invited to my 12th birthday party. I didn’t know what to do when she showed up. I don’t think she ever got over that, but she is a forgiving soul and patient (like Billy the Kid). We laughed and talked, and, when it was over, we said goodbye for now — just another afternoon in a very long day.

My friend said just last week she had a dream about another friend of ours who died in 1977 — vivid, filled with the living memories of her art and life. One of those dreams where you wake up and you know it was all real. It was. Writing is dreaming while awake and dreams are precursors to events, miracles, solutions.

I told her to say hello the next time she was in the Spirit World with our friend. I dream about her, too, and it really is like a visit now and then just to say hello and that everything is alright. It’s strange because she’s almost always late for work somewhere and just taking a minute to visit, a minute in a very long day.

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I feel sweetly sad after those dreams but content — except the part about work. I have no doubt our work continues on the other side of the veil but late? Let there be no clocks in Heaven.

This moment in time I call life is like a flickering porch light just before it pops and goes dark; it’s so sudden and unexpected and filled with surprise. Neil Armstrong told us to remember where we are when the lights go out on stage because it’s a long lonely walk to the curtain. But that’s only true if we were famous, maybe. Or maybe it’s true for all of us.

 So, it’s our friends and our purpose and our service to others, through the long day, that matter in the end. The milestones come at light speed, but love and friends linger ever after. Merry Christmas.

Frank Carroll is a freelance writer and columnist. He can be reached by emailing or visiting

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