Fall has always been my favorite season. Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, Fall was such a beautiful time of the year color-wise and weather-wise. The oppressive heat and humidity of summer started to give way to the crisp evenings and cooler days. The days would start getting shorter, the leaves would change into gorgeous hues of red, orange and yellows. We had lush woods behind our house that would turn, and our birdfeeders were flocked by bright red cardinals. It was a time of change: new school year, new teachers, pep rallys, and the excitement of all the new school activities ahead. I can still hear the marching band and cheers at the Friday evening football games. Shorts and T-shirts were put away for jackets, jeans and soft,warm sweatshirts. Everything was familiar, safe and comforting. The song "I Dreamed a Dream" reminds me of how I felt back then..
I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted...
Fall also meant the holidays were all around the corner, the excitment of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas were near! When my mother would be getting decorations out, we would be planning parties, getting together with friends. I always knew that fun family times were ahead, the love of friends and those near and dear gathering for good food and good fun.
Alot of those warm fuzzy feelings of fall changed for me in August 1989 when I was 20 years old. That was the Fall I went away to college for RUSH week for our sorority. I was beginning my junior year, full of unbridled enthusiasm, happy to be back with my friends on the beautiful Butler University campus, ready for parties and dances. I was only back a few days when I got the phone call that my mom was in the hospital and I needed to come back home. It was serious this time. She had been ill for a few years but I had no idea she was ill enough to go down that road we were about to travel. A few of my best friends drove me back home, a 4 hour trip, sweet enough to know I shouldn't drive and be alone. That was the weekend the rug was forever pulled out from under me...my life as I knew it would be changed and no longer the same. My mom passed away that weekend, as I was by her side...her life just slowly leaving her body as I sat there. All of a sudden I went from being her child, still a kid, to having to be a grown up. Suddenly I was alone, I had my father and brother but we were all grieving our own private loss and we couldn't understand what the other was going thru. We lived our own hell. I went back to school, and struggled the rest of that fall...the holidays came and went with little meaning. There was no joy that Fall.
That was over 20 years ago, but the Fall always brings those days back to the front burner of my mind. Even though Fall is still my favorite season, I have had to overcome what I used to think of Fall and change it to something different. I moved to a state where Fall barely exists for one thing, not on purpose, but strange how that has turned out! Then in the Fall of 2003 I received one of life's most beautiful gifts, my first son Evan was born the same week my mom died all those years ago. A new beginning for me! A new reason to celebrate the Fall and embrace it. A new reason to feel excitement and joy at the season before us! I have begun embracing Fall again, welcoming it again and found the precious gifts I used to when I was younger in the season again. Life has a way of coming full circle. I don't believe in coincidences. So this year I look forward to the Fall, the newness of a new school year, new teachers, new school, new experiences and new memories with my family and friends. And this year, I WELCOME it!