Saturday, November 08, 2008
Autumn is my favorite season but it also seems that my mind goes involuntarily back to the last days I spent with my dad while he was dying. Our last conversations, the last thing I fed him, the last songs I sang for him,the last time I heard him laugh, his sadness, his worship and the rapid disintegration of his dignity. I don't really want to go back to those end days so I try to not let myself.
There is so much I love about the Fall only intensified by my desire to share it with my children. So we spend our days outside, on walks, collecting treasure, throwing rocks in the water, we try to take our work and play outside to soak up every last drop of the fleeting daylight. There has been healing and these Autumn days have been quite magical really. Do you ever pass a place where the golden light is so surreal you just want to lie there all day?
Today however I knew it would be hard not to remember that four years ago today I held his hand and watched him die. I wanted to be outside with my family on this pristine day, much like that day four years ago. So we drove a little ways to a mountain to hike and escape for awhile. As we drove I watched the trees, their colors as thick as oil paint and the notes of this song penetrating my soul.Definitely worth taking a minute to listen. Suddenly the way the leaves spun and swirled across the road from the truck in front of us like sunlit sparks from a fire seemed to be in unison with the lilting melody and the memories of him. I was overwhelmed with how purely glorious the sights and sounds of aliveness are. I let the quiet tears fall into the reflection in the window and let myself go back there for a few moments.
The other day I was walking with the kids at the Nature Center and Juden was asking all sorts of questions like why we were always outside lately and what happens in the Fall. I told him that Autumn would go by quickly and that once it gets cold the leaves turn colors and they die and the trees are all bare. He looked very sad and said, "mommy, I don't want the leaves to die and turn back into soil." So I tried to explain the natural process of life and death in nature and that the leaves die and replenish the earth to make room for new life in the Spring. But they get to turn all the colors of flames and shine their brightest before they die, the best I could do in four year old terms. I looked around at the sun shining through deep yellows and red and thought of how my dad seemed renewed and like the truest version of himself right before his journey ended.
I have a little matchbox which reads,"Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I've got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible..." G.B. Shaw
My dad made his life shine brightly in a million ways and I like to think I am continuing some small aspect of the burning.
Grief can take on so many faces. There is the grief which causes momentary sighs of melancholy and there is the grief that torments your dreams at night and wakes you sweating and gasping for air, grief that makes you wonder when you will have a tearless day. I have experienced both, and once you have stood alongside a grave where your loved one lies, you are never really the same. But four years later I can testify to God's power of healing. There is a void that can not be filled at holidays and in family pictures and in all of our hearts but I can see now, God's tender mercies and I trust in His perfect plan.