The crispness in the air is mingling with the dry spiciness of fallen leaves and the sour tang of rotting apples. A few flowers are hanging on for the last of the warm days. The season of dying has arrived again. The time for shedding used-up ideas and old notions.
I am grateful to live in a place where the changing of the seasons provides a spectacular reminder of the cycle of change that governs the natural world. A stunning tangible reminder of death and rebirth, year after year. Life and death and life, this giving way to that; a given in a universe where the change is a constant. Even the stars, which in the time of our little lives, seem not to change at all, will eventually die, the biggest ending in enormous fiery explosions that will litter a bit of the universe with the cosmic detritus needed for new stars to be born and … maybe … new life.
Here in this tiny bit of the universe where my own life unfolds, the stars seem timeless and everlasting relative to the quick blink of my own life. But I can see this same cycle in the smaller deaths of the leaves falling from the trees, flushing with a final beauty as if they knew they would be admired. The mums flashing their purples and golds and burgundies before the first hard frost takes them away. Year after year we have the opportunity to witness how life turns to death – withering over time or in epic battles or just gone in an instant – and how death turns to life once again.
Here is my framework, for the living and the dying and the living again of my self. The psychic death after the hard-fought battle of adolescence, when the child had to give way to the adult. The withering of my Maiden self as my belly grew full with my first baby, finally sloughing her off all together so that the Mother could be born right on time to love another being at great cost to herself. Only months later realizing that the Maiden was gone; that she had fallen away unlooked for some time in the midst of the rocking and moaning of labor, and that while I carried her memory, I would never see her again. I hadn’t known to say goodbye. Do the trees wish their leaves farewell? Or do they simply let go?
And now here I face the dying again. My youngest baby is about to turn 5, and the Nurturer, the mother of babies that I was, is going on; making space for a different kind of mother. But this time I have the wisdom to see it coming, to shake hands with the grief that arrives as pall-bearer. Do I say goodbye? Or do I simply let go?