Sitting on my front porch I look across at the fields, freshly plowed and saturated with the gracious rain we have had this week. The sky is grey, and there is a light fog hovering over the ground. Silence, rain drops, and cool air – it’s finally fall. It’s been my favorite season since I was a child. Pumpkins and haunted houses, spices and baking, sweaters and vibrant foliage, I love it all. Yesterday I relished it, grateful to finally be rid of the heat and meet my favorite season again.
This year though, it tagged something dark behind it. Something I spend most days numbing because the emotions and reactions that accompany it exhaust me. They’ve drained so much of what I had, they’ve forced me to change in ways I still resent, and I have worked hard to recover from the hit and regain control, those feelings cause a spiral I avoid at all costs. Dad’s death. Every 2nd day of the month I watch tick by…the anniversary is nearing. I can’t stop time. Looking out at the fog today triggered the reality, again. It’s funny how it can sometimes be the most minuscule things. I have described it as a fog to many. It lightens up here and there, but always drags alongside, never fully resolving. It anxiously waits for a moment of vulnerability, to creep in and overwhelm and burden.
That day it was cold. Amarillo was misty and chilly. The harsh breeze stung the tears on my face the second I darted out of the car into their house, wild eyes scanning for my mom. I spent a lot of those following days taking breaks outside. The cold air made my shallow gasps harder to calm.
I walked outside today and the reel flickered on, rolling through the images branded into my heart of those first few days. I walked back inside angry my favorite time of year brought such a painful reminder. I am not in denial. But his death is still surreal. It’s like a total 180 happened. That life this time last year and the one I’m living currently seem to have nothing in common. The new territory is unsettling. Numb provides a safe camping ground to move through day to day obligations and life. This time last year when fall hit I was ecstatic. Nothing to look forward to but holidays, family, pies and trips away to survive planting season. I feel angry at times that I was naively caught off guard. I felt robbed of my birthday, forever to spend it mourning what I lost, a pretty shitty gift I thought.
I miss dad every day. My brother and I encourage one another to think about what dad would want for us, for our family, for my kids. He would be laughing, and most likely scolding us for making such a fuss over him. He was so selfless; he wouldn’t have wanted this to hurt so much. Healing will take time. I don’t know how many falls, how many birthdays, or how many years it will take to smile through the sting. Maybe it’s an infinite number. I suspect to some degree it will always hurt. But if the roles were reversed I know what I would want, and I know my dad feels the same. Death didn’t separate us, in fact it unites us. Because of our shared faith, we are granted eternity together. I only have so many falls until I spend every season forever with dad by my side.
When the fog surrounds, I’ll do my best to meet it head on, and I’ll give myself grace when it takes over. Because I’ve learned there is no correct way to handle grief. You just hang on, because like fall – a season of change is coming.