October 7th, 2017: I wanted the weather today to be gray and rainy and depressing, matching my mood. When I awoke, I lay in bed for a few moments. The light in the bedroom, at 8:30 am, was dim – suggesting that my wish had been fulfilled. From the delicious “sleeping in” comfort of my bed, I tilted my head back and peered through the partially closed blinds. A glint of gold from a few freshly turned leaves caught my eye. I sat up on the edge of the bed and opened the blinds fully. Thick beams of light stretched across the yard, illuminating those few golden leaves – their color accentuated by juxtaposition with the faded pale green of the surrounding ones, just on the verge of displaying their own vibrancy. “Shit,” I thought, “what an annoyingly beautiful day.” I appreciate the beauty of autumn. It’s like the leaves are donning their finest finery just to say goodbye to us in the most glorious way. It’s funny that we go on “color tours” to revel in what is, in actuality, a pretty clear signal of impending death. Comedian Jim Gaffigan summed up the sheer strangeness of this collective fascination with a few short words, “Everyone says, ‘Oh look, fall foliage! Let’s drive by the fall foliage! The leaves are SO beautiful just before they fall to their DEATH!’”
I love color…LOTS of color. Even when I was a child I was drawn to vibrant colors. I still love color, and fall has always been my favorite season because of its colorfulness. I remember feeling jealous of my father and sister, whose birthdays are in October. I recall many birthday preparations for them being carried out amidst the bright-hued orange, red, and gold foliage and golden rays of autumn sun. By contrast, my birthday, which is in winter – more specifically TWO DAYS after Christmas – was always set against steel gray skies and the black silhouettes of bare trees. Of course, since I live in Michigan, there was also the frequent prospect of a blizzard or slightly lesser snowstorm. Then there was the fact that people are coming off the major MEGA celebration that is Christmas. I have always said, “There’s just no competing with Jesus when it comes to birthday celebrations.” His is, of course, THE biggest. Plus, people are usually totally partied-out, after Christmas, and are just recharging their batteries in preparation for New Years. Consequently, my birthday has, typically, come and gone with little fanfare. Hey, no worries. I’ve long since been “over it.”
On October 7th, 1989, I found a depth of joy in autumn that I had never felt before. I gave birth to a beautiful little girl – Sarah Christine. Every year, I looked forward, with great anticipation to fall and to her birthday. Now, the changing of the leaves and the crispness in the autumn air are a reminder to me of what is not. The beauty of autumn still stirs my soul. The cool air still soothes my body, as I am not a fan of warm weather. Yet, the colorful foliage, the yellow fields of spent cornstalks, and the cool nights remind me that you came to me when the trees blazed color and the air held a chill. You should be here, still, Sarah Christine. I miss you. I love you. I’ll never stop loving you…or the season that, to me, is you.