Autumn always puts me in a certain mood. It's a sweet sort of melancholy that rolls in with the cool evening air, like reckless joy sets daily with the sun, earlier and earlier. I love the way it makes me feel. To me, it's a time of reflection. This is true of all autumns. Autumn is the quiet time before winter, before death. Spring is rebirth. Summer is the prime of life. Every season has its purpose. So they say once you reach a certain age, that you are in the autumn of your life. It must feel like this: a remembrance, a reflection, a sharp awareness of the present leaves that fall one by one off cooling trees. So I savor this time each year. You never know if this will be your final autumn. It's important to take the time to be in this sort of moment- this very unique sort of space, where something is inevitably over, and it's still hard to see the place where that feeling might return. Yet, knowing that summer (and all the feelings of being in it) is finished, is what begins autumn. And when you think of your life now, it is harder to see endless possibilities, it is harder to think that the road is in front of you and the wind is at your back. Now, rather, it seems as if the roads get dark earlier and earlier, the wind at your back is too cold. It's hard to see where you are going. And that is okay. Now, it is time to be quietly with yourself. To think about your life and yourself: where you are and where you have been. Some people say to put the past away, but I think it is good to hold it lovingly in your lap for a part of a season, just to remember what brought you here and made you this person. Who shaped your thoughts? Who taught you love? Whose words fill up your veins? Which places showed you sacred? Which songs embraced you? And so I reflect...
Gavin turned three last week. Three! Time marches on. It is hard to believe that it was almost three years ago that I met his crying face. That he would stop screaming if I sang to him, but only certain songs. I saw him eat his first foods, roll over, sit up, take his first steps, wear his first underwear, say his first words, hit me the first time, kiss me the first time, and grow into such an amazing little boy- so full of energy and a wonderful sense of adventure and curiosity. I can't believe he's three.
And Isabella, who will be 2 in February. Two!? I watched her grow in utero, talked to her via Emily's belly, brought Gavin to the hospital so we could meet her the day she was born. She and I have been through a lot together. She had a rough start, and our bond grew from that, I think. She is full of love, a gentle child when she feels it, but a fire cracker too. She knows what she wants, that girl. And she will find a way to get it. She is a problem solver. And she loves to laugh. When I think of Isabella, I think of giggles and silly faces. She taught me patience and perseverance, and about the depths and trials of love for a child.
And James, in second grade already! Growing up, find his passions, having adventures of his own. Learning to be a big brother. I remember my first day with him, too. A three year old who did not take kindly to rules. My, how much fun we had, and it only took a couple of days. James taught me what adventure really means, and how to see the world in a completely different way. What a wonderful boy he is, full of love for life, and a joy of learning, and so full of light.
To have these experience, and to not yet be a mom blows my mind. I am so lucky. I am so ready for children of my own.
I reflect on family. On the family I want to be for and with my children and Chip. I think of strength, unconditional love, support, encouragement, stability, endurance, gentleness, respect, admiration, and joy. I think it will be quite incredible to meet the people that my children will be, and to share with them a life, for so long, and through so much. The human journey blows my mind.
I reflect on myself. I have changed so much (and am ever changing). Each progression I feel moves me closer to finding my true self. The person I am at the core (and always have been). I keep discovering things, and embracing things, and I love it. Life is so full of beauty.
So many people have come into my world and taught me things, or shown me things, or helped me to selve. I am so grateful for each and every experience. I would not change one thing. I am who I am because of these things. People lost, and people found.
And all the places that have brought me here. Nashville (oh, Nashville), Amiens, Massachusetts, Ogden (oh, Utah), Tucson (and her desert), and most of all the road. Much of myself I encountered on the road, somewhere between here and there, and sometime between night and day. But not just the places I have lived, also the places I have visited. Everything leaves its impression, you know.
I think its appropriate that Halloween and Thanksgiving are part of autumn. Halloween is for remembering those who have continued on, behind the veil. So I think of them. I think of Chip Adkisson, of how he taught me about music and he taught me about poetry (and his self written epitaph taught me about bravery), and his death taught my fifth grade self about the depths of sadness and about reality. I think about Grandaddy Roy and the songs he would teach me, and about his harmonica, and his fiddle. He passed his bluegrass soul on to me, and I think he had wandering blood in him, too. His death came early in the morning, amidst a haze of confusion, and I was younger, and I think more sad for everyone else's sadness than for my own (because perhaps I saw death as not so final). I think about Aunt Louise and I think of her smile and her love, and though I didn't know her as well as I could have, I miss her sometimes. Her death is surrounded by injustices in so many ways, so I think about that too. Are we at all entitled to justice? I think about others as well. I think about Chip's father, and his brother, whom I never met. I love them both. I wish I could have known them. Mostly I think about Grandaddy. His death was sudden- too sudden. But I had just seen him two days before- and had thought- my grandparents may not be around too much longer. And I had asked him to tell me his jokes, and I had hugged him, and told him how much I loved him. And his death pushed me over certain edges. His death forced me into parts of myself that I had been unwilling to acknowledge. His death tore the bonds of family, and pushed many people to extremes. His death... what can I say. I miss you Grandaddy. You taught me so much about life- about horrors and war and fear and courage. You taught me to laugh- always to laugh. And to question things. And I found a poem you kept in your drawer. And it brought me happiness.
Death is a good teacher. Our culture avoids death- avoids thinking about it, talking about it, acknowledging that it will happen to us. But it will. We will all die. And that's okay. All those people are still with me- they are me, because they have shaped me. And there are people who are not dead, yet they are not alive. And those people I have mourned as well. I have mourned the loss of their love. Mourned their rejection of love and life. And that has shaped me, too.
And I think about my own death. Am I afraid? I'm afraid of pain more than death I think. But I will deny that I will die someday. Of course I hope that I have time to have a family, and accomplish things. But everyday I try to remind myself that you never know.
And from death comes life. That is spring. It is all part of this cycle. We all go through it every year, every day. What else has died for you? Passions, projects? Ideas? Relationships? Fears? And what will be born of these deaths? That is a question, perhaps better contemplated in the mood of spring. For now, let's appreciate all the things that have brought us here. The things that have ended, yet do not have ends (because they are in us). The dark evenings are cool and quiet. A warm cup of tea and your thoughts are good company. This is autumn. We prepare for death. We reflect. We fill ourselves with the loves and hopes and joys and losses of life, and we wait. Because we know that spring will come.