It’s been raining for days. The ground, cold and wet, ushers autumn in with its slippery welcome mat. Fallen reds and browns slouch beneath my feet and stick to the bottom of my tall, green boots. The back seat of our car piles high with fleecy layers peeled off, and the beans and tomatoes swirl hot on the stove to the lead of a wooden spoon. October silently elbows its way between summer and winter, and before I know it, before I have had time to brace myself, I am wedged in the middle of all that it holds.
I always loved October. It felt safe and sandwiched, unhurried and set apart, like I could hunker down and peer over the edge at the coming train of holidays and birthdays without yet feeling the wind from its speed. But now October is grounded and thick in new ways. As the day that marks two years since Webb last plopped into my lap crawls closer, treasured and tragic memories and images resurface with sharper colors and vivid realness. And I feel myself rolling up the sleeves, widening my stance for stability, and preparing for the waves that will come.
So much of life is lived in the anticipation of what’s on the horizon, the baited breath and the drawn inhale. There is such fear of how the unfolding may knock things upside down that were finally settling, and the hurried business of making sure that all the pieces are quickly gathered and arranged. And I wonder what all is missed, what haggard and imperfect pieces are discarded. I wonder what October gifts I might miss if I keep my fists clinched on ten and two, eyes fixed on simply making it through. Yes, October has snuck itself into being and it takes just about all I’ve got to loosen my stance and let down my sleeves, to sit criss-crossed right in the middle of the bathing and the beating that marks two years.
I guess we can choose whether to grin and bear or to release and lean. I guess we can close our eyes and grit our teeth, just waiting for the time to pass and the wave to roll. But this October, with all its slippery colors and sharp memories, I want to feel the wave, to open my eyes beneath its cloudy waters, to float with fingers spread as I ride through it. Because I know that there is a time for bearing down and for getting through. But then comes a time for embracing, for feeling and remembering all of it, the painful and the beautiful, and for falling freely into all that is awakened by the gentle stirring that October brings.