Fall has a lesson for me. It holds a metaphor of my need to hold on to joy.
As the leaves turn and the air crisps I am filled with a yearning that is familiar. My vision is of walking to a college class. I am wearing my new brown dress sprinkled with tiny flowers as I kick fallen leaves. In those days, the faint smell of smoke was another signal that autumn had arrived.
Even then, I recognized the perfection of the moment, of the walk, of the season and of my wonderful place in the world. And I wanted to stop time and hold the perfection close.
I recognized that same longing yesterday when I left my granddaughter after rare time together. Seeing her brought memories of lying down with her at bedtime. She lay with her hand on my arm to assure herself of my presence as her tiny body relaxed. I would know she was asleep when her breathing was an audible purr.
How could those years have gone so swiftly? Now she’s seventeen and has traveled enough to recognize her connection to a greater world. Her growing independence is obvious in our adult-to-adult conversations. I talk too much and listen too little as I strive to build and maintain our bond before she leaves. I want to keep my hand on her arm.
As I drove home through the stunning colors, the poignancy of inevitable change was familiar and painful. Autumn color is fleeting. Just as life and love are tenuously held by invisible threads. Inevitably people move on, leaves fall, turn brown and return to the earth. Yet fall beauty doesn’t die. It goes dormant to awake again in the spectacle of spring.
I want to learn from this. To let life unfold. To allow the sweetness of the memories to lie waiting until my heart opens to them. Because they slip from my tingling fingers more readily the more tenaciously I clutch them.
My granddaughter and I will touch each other again. Our connection lies waiting for the next opportunity.
The seasons will turn, each with its own splendor. And I will walk the streets in the rustling leaves as the sun shines through the glorious red. The sweet gum tree will show its versatility and the poplars will raise their branches to the sky in golden glory.
Ah…breathe deeply, enjoy, let it go.
Note: This piece was created for and published by the website Vision and Verb (http://www.visionandverb.com), …a global gathering of women of this age, on November 5, 2011.