I graduated from college almost two decades ago and I cannot go into a store this time of year without purchasing something for the dorm room I no longer have. I do not need a microwaveable pizza slice reheater, or a bed in a bag, or 342 granola bars; even though the bulk packs of Ramen Noodles are a great deal. I’m older now, and on medication for blood pressure. Oh, to relive the days when things like sodium, radiation exposure and sleep had no consequence. For real though, there’s something about the transition of summer to fall that makes me feel like I live in two worlds.
On the one hand, I actually do reside in Syracuse, NY. So, this seasonal shift brings the awareness that in only a few short weeks I’ll have to say goodbye to everyone I know, prepare my asexual winter wardrobe, stock up on vitamin D, and hunker down for an unknown time frame. The days will be shorter. The mac and cheese recipes will start showing up — quietly at first, one boasting local cheddar in the newspaper, another taunting me with a ‘now available in stores’ label. That one means I might not have to get out of my sweatpants or leave the house after it gets dark, at 3pm. We become different people as we prepare for winter. It’s primal yet out of place.
I live in a house, and I didn’t build it with lumber I cut down with my make shift axe or my teeth. I don’t need to stock up on things for fear that I won’t be able to get out of my cave or through the mountains on foot before the river freezes over. Why is there a sense of panic and anxiety that comes with the acknowledgement of a new season? The same reason our grief can dictate our gratitude and vice versa. How we welcome a new season reflects how we feel about change.
My emotions are on the surface most of the time. I cry happy and sad tears to the point that I always like to have electrolyte infused water around, just in case I get dehydrated. Everything about the shift from summer to fall dances just under my skin. As the leaves begin to change I love the color but I can feel the lump in my throat growing.
It serves as a not so subtle reminder that I am about to enter another chapter in my life, without my dad, without a lot of people who I thought I’d never be able to live without. The guidepost moves and I am forced be more reliant on myself each year. Are there new people that provide new insight and new relationship opportunities? Sure. Still, the awareness of loss is more prevalent.
My friends and I gather in solidarity for more funerals than we do weddings now. We still laugh and joke with a deep appreciation for one another. We cry harder because we loved and laughed harder. There is a profound joy that accompanies the pain.
So while I don’t need the milk carton/storage container/nightstand. There is something reassuring in their multi-purpose usage but also the friendly reminder that I have something deeper to rely on.
Although those fur blankets would look great in my cave!
Chances are you are also entering a new season in your life. Whatever that looks like, however you feel about it, trust you are supported. The world spins whether we want it to or not. Enjoy the ride.
Kate D. Mahoney is a professional storyteller, actorvist and author who travels the country to share anecdotes from life as patient and caregiver- it’s crisis, but with jazz hands. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a speaking engagement.