Fall. It used to be my favorite.
Actually, that’s probably not true. Summer has long been a favorite since the days of my childhood spent splashing and swimming in any body of water that was at least a few inches deep. Entire days were dedicated to playing in my grandparents’ pool, the river that ran through my town, pretty much any body of water that was available for me and my sisters to play in, and sometimes, the ocean itself. Summer meant freedom, staying up way too late and sleeping in as much as possible. Ignoring the responsibilities of life, which alas, was only school at the time.
Eventually, sometime around my high school years, fall became my new fling. Bonfires, football games, pumpkins, comfort foods and of course the beautiful changing of the leaves had me falling in love. Even though fall meant going back to school, for once in my life, I was beginning to like it.
In early November, the year after I graduated high school, my husband proposed to me. His proclamation of love was surrounded by the smell of a fire and the sights of autumn painted leaves lit up by the setting of the sun. We were married two Novembers later, further solidifying my bond with that dreamy season.
Pardon my Tina Turner, but it was simply the best. What was not to love? I had, and currently have, way more fall decorations than any other time of year. Yes, even Christmas. Gasp!
It’s funny how things evolve. Summer has stolen a piece of my heart back, as our little ones are now enjoying that freedom that comes with the ringing of the final school bell. Just like that, once again, I like to stretch out those warm sun-kissed moments as long as the days will let me.
Try as I may, fall continues to show up. With its routines and schedules, and long before the weather actually begins to cool down. Hello, August in the south. Do not talk to me about the technicalities of seasonal dates. I don’t care what the solstice and equinox have to say about it, I refuse to tell my girls that they have to return to school while it is still summer according to the calendar. As far as I’m concerned, when their school opens those doors for good, it is officially fall.
Lately, for our family, and for a season I once held so dearly, fall has now managed to leave a bitter taste in our mouths. It is no wonder we approach this time of year with a bit of trepidation. It seems as though many of the crises that our family have faced together over the years all come to a head during this once dreamy season. The past three Septembers alone have rolled around with our marriage on the edge of disaster, a major cancer diagnosis of a close family member, a devastating pregnancy loss for my sister.
This year, we are beginning September with our sweet cancer ridden grandfather going into hospice care for the final stretch. Our Labor Days have become less of a celebratory vacay weekend and have turned into a chance to steal away time with our loved ones back home. Many times, I have found myself longing for summer, for freedom, and to forget the responsibilities of the present. To find my way back to the water and, if I were lucky, that crystal clear ocean.
As if the impending season that brings on change is not enough, Mother Nature follows through with another so bitter and lifeless, one does not want to walk out of their own front door for months. We bundle up and stay indoors, longing for another dose of Vitamin D.
However, maybe there is something to that. Maybe it takes the grayscale devastation of winter to help me look for the beauty in the fall. Maybe that spring will be ever brighter, thanks to the death that begins in a season filled with change. Maybe the hope is knowing, even though fall is beginning, spring is never too far away. Life will come again.
When he was well, my grandfather was an avid gardener. Thanks to him I know that only when the ground has had proper rest, can our gardens grow as never before. A season of change, followed by emptiness, leading way to breathtaking beauty, back to the time of planting, growing, and warm sunshine.
Through every crisis our family has faced each year, something beautiful has always been birthed through it. Not right away. Usually only after an unexpected change that brings death to what we thought would be and follows up with a vibrant spring we could have never imagined for ourselves. This time I am not sure what will be on the other side of my grandfather’s last days, but I do have hope. He will be in the midst of the One who makes all things, and we will see him again.
I no longer love fall, but I am trying to appreciate it. I look for the beauty in it, and remember to be thankful for the process of making all things new.