Turning Over a New Leaf (reluctantly)

dsc_0093“Autumn is the year’s last, loveliest smile”    William Cullen Bryant

My lone maple tree in the front yard is doing its thing. As all of nature, it meekly obeys the laws of the season. With branches exposed, leaves going, going, gone, I can easily picture my grandboys climbing upwards with the helpful boost of their grandpa, while my heart was in my throat. It’s the same tree I laughingly watched, many springs ago, as my sweet neighbor deftly dug up my perfectly placed impatiens, replanting them in her own garden. (To be fair, she did think they were planted by community landscapers; thus fair game)

I know my proud tree will soon become a snow laden skeleton and spring buds won’t emerge until another season of bloom. But right now, its leaves are dying a Technicolor death. Others will grow and follow in another year, another season, but these particular leaves, who’ve shaded the grandsons throwing Frisbies – will be gone forever.

Like those we love, like we ourselves – to everything there is a season. The season our husbands, our wives, our mothers, fathers or siblings shared with us has been swept away along with the stunning foliage that was theirs alone. To us it’s never the right time or season for leaf loss. We don’t care that they become merely crinkled and aged shadows of their neon green selves. We don’t care that they’ve reached the end of their season with nowhere to go but the ether. We just want them – there. When the tree is no longer lush, barely able to still shade and shelter, when fall’s brutal winds remove the leaves and bare sad, naked branches, we want to hold on to the season. We want to grasp spring buds and  fall’s kaleidescope tightly, thinking we can save them from morphing into winter’s stark silouettes. Ha!  Just like all of life, autumn . . . leaves. Continue reading

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Well there’s that . . .

lonelinessHearing politicians talk is hardly my favorite pastime. This year, they are on my last nerve. But a few days ago I heard a soundbyte that caught me up short, which isn’t exactly shocking given this bizarre election year climate. This particular weird statement (also not shocking this year) made me think ‘what the…?’ And I automatically turned to say ‘Hon, did you hear that?”. Reflex actions die hard (no pun intended) and I knew my husband, as he always quipped, would ‘understand totally’. Except he isn’t there to tell that little political pundit to making it just one more moment that pushes my grief buttons.

Grief is contradiction. It’s a strange medley of the subtle and the overwhelming. It’s quiet reflection and loud sobbing. It’s memories that bring deepest sadness — and sentimental laughter. Yes, it happens. When you’re in your grief coma, with your heart in yesterday even as your feet are in tomorrow, the split-personality of grief shows up (or acts up, depending on how you look at it.) Continue reading

‘Tis better to have loved . . .

annivGrow old with me; the best is yet to be.       Robert Browning

Yes, I AM sappy enough to have hung that innocently hopeful plaque in my bedroom – but it was also the first thing to go after my husband died. It seemed a pretty lousy reminder that growing old together wasn’t on the table.

Remember your first wedding anniversary, when you toasted the 365 that followed your wedding day hoopla?  Maybe you congratulated each other on how well you maneuvered those first months of growth, woven together with discovery, change, joy and maybe even a little disillusionment. You made it through the milestone first married year. Like us, you probably made an anniversary toast, as you celebrated each other and the years ahead.

Well, this week marks an anniversary, too, but not one I looked forward to. October 14 marks the first anniversary of my husband’s death and there’s nothing to celebrate about that. There’s no joyous newlywed year-end toast nor any of the anniversaries that marked another year of precious memories. All the laughs and kisses once shared with the man I loved will only be given and received this anniversary with all who gather to remember him that day. Continue reading

Make a wish. No, another one . . .

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The Mad Hatter (Alice in Wonderland)

Happy Birthday — NOT. This year’s birthday is still a few days away but I can’t help channel the Mad Hatter, with his lopsided birthday cake, and his kooky wishes for an unbirthday. I’m no Grinch. I love celebrating everyone’s special days even more than my own, but last year, my trusty Libra scales completely tipped over. And they dumped all the ‘Wonderland’ cheer out of me.  Last year, the day that marked by birth began a runaway train I didn’t even know I was on — and I was powerless to stop it.  That beautiful October jewel of a day tripped off what would be the last week — of my husband’s life.

That day. . . I was unaware of what was to come as I wrote a gratitude piece I posted on Facebook surveying my life in light of another birthday. As I wrote it, I laughed and cried as my life’s blessings poured into my words. And as the words took shape, it was evident that both hard times and joyful times make a life; mold a life and that day, when I examined my life, I was grateful for all of it.

That day. . . as I contentedly poured my soul into that little birthday reflection, I had no way of knowing all my thoughts, my gratitude would be tested in life-changing ways. I could not have known that day I would find my husband dead — just 5 days later. But looking back, I’m certain I wouldn’t change a word of what I wrote. I just wish those clueless, happy moments would have lasted longer. Don’t we all. Continue reading