The Smell of Fall

Fall has a smell. I smell it every year and every year I struggle to describe it. Saturday mornings are cool with just a bit of a chill in the air. The air smells clean and smells like change. Sometimes if I’m quiet and still, I can almost put the right words to it.

Fall is full of all the fun things – the dazzling, autumnal display of changing leaves, hay rides, cotton rides, picking out the perfect pumpkin to carve, corn mazes, enjoying a cozy fire, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, going to football games, decorating for Halloween. I love doing all of it. I’ve never felt melancholy this time of year. Fall usually rejuvenates me.

Not so much this year.

This year, COVID has cast a cloud over all the fun fall things. This year, I don’t have my partner-in-crime with me to do all the fun fall things. This year, I just want to hibernate, yet I don’t. I want to get out and live, too. It’s confusing. It’s just not fair.

Our second wedding anniversary would have been about two weeks from today, October 20th. COVID keeps me from escaping to a bed & breakfast in a mountain somewhere or to a place on a quiet beach. It keeps me from doing the activities that involve people. It’s just not fair.

The second year after Bryan’s death is almost as bad as the first year. I think I was in shock that first year. It went by in a blur of tears, memories, and grief. The second year, however, things have slowed down. I’ve become a forgotten widow, left alone to process those memories, the grief, and the realization that life just chugs along, despite trauma.

I don’t always mind the solitude. It helps me think which helps me heal. The grief still comes at unexpected moments. I ride the wave as it comes and then move on to the next wave and on and on. So it goes. I write what I feel, I pray, and I meditate in the quiet stillness of the mornings and late evenings. I listen to my music. I sit quietly, analyzing my feelings and finding comfort in my space.

My life is moving on. I’m slowly learning to live despite the pandemic. I have people whom I’m blessed to call my friends and they may not know it, but they’re helping me through these crazy waves of grief. It’s enough.

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