Brilliant yellows and oranges, they ruffle in the wind when the cold comes and soon are tossed to the ground.
Autumn makes me think. For me, it’s a moving inward time, a time when I want to stare at the October cobalt blue sky and the yellows and oranges plastered to it and make sense of this thing we call life. Because in winter I will be inside, and a barren landscape will be outside.
In early October I was on a panel for a session at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville — memoirs of grief and healing: “What It Takes to Heal.” I shared from my book Remember the Dragonflies and what helped me to move forward after losing a loved one. That talk is here.
And now that my book has been on the market for one year, I will say this. I can see a difference in people and in the way they view my book. Some don’t want to think about losing a spouse at all. They refuse to accept that it might happen to them; they don’t want to consider it. At all. And they don’t want to read my book and know reality. The attitude is: if it happens, I will deal with it then. I understand that. I also understand that reading about realities of life helps us to prepare for the ways we might react if and when it happens to us. I understand this because I’ve done it all my life. It was my approach to life. But that’s me.
Then there are others . . . other strong women who are aware that in all likelihood, at some point, it WILL happen to them. They embrace it and read my book and take note of things that happen to a surviving spouse — the feelings of isolation that come, the death departments of credit card companies that call with coldness, the friends who don’t understand and don’t call, the light bulbs that go out, the vacuum cleaner that breaks, the holidays — and how one woman handled them all. These women store away for a time well out in the future, and when death comes, they will hopefully pull out that memory and know, Oh, that happened to her and this is what she did. And they are able to better stand up to it. They will hopefully do it far better than I.
I wrote my book for these women. The women who have not lost a spouse. So they will know that they can make it, too. So when it does happen and they are thrown to the ground, they will not be trampled upon . . . without at least knowing that they are going to be trampled upon.
Autumn leaves, while they are still hanging on in all their brilliance and beauty, remind us to go inward for a moment and prepare for the coming time. Because at some point, life will boil what’s in your crucible down to the salt of “you.” Now is the time to become aware of the possibilities and to consider the substance of “you.” Now is the time to get to know YOU.
Not only in loss and grief, but in other facets of life as well . . . Autumn makes me think.