Sunday, October 21, 2012

In the Coming Darkness, A Light

I love the fall, this downshift season.

I love the colors and the crisp air and the delightful sunny, warm days. I love the gold of the light through yellow leaves and how it can seem bright on even a gray day.

I love layers and sweaters and pulling the covers up at night. I love soup simmering on the stove and hearty casseroles baking in the oven. I love squash and kale and apples. I love clearing the dead plants out of the garden—and still running out to snip some kale or broccoli or mustard greens or parsley.

And I don't really mind winter, but December is another story. I still dread it, still get anxious about how to make space for joy and grief, celebration and commemorating. I made some headway on it last year, but I don't trust it. Grief is not linear. I know this. I've forgotten and been reminded. December was better, but I'm wary.

But here is my light going forward:

I was talking to my aunt tonight and the day for grieving families that I go to at Children's came up. I talked about how it felt right for me to go back in late fall, in what was the middle of our time there. And, I said, It's right before . . .

Your dark time, she finished for me.


It won't always be dark you know.

I started to cry. Maybe part of me knew that, but part of me needed to hear it, because sometimes it feels like it will always be dark, despite the light most days. I have come so far in these almost five years. I don't need to reread my journals or this blog to recognize that (though I like to do that). I have come so far in these four years ten months. There will be other milestones, but I think (hope) believe December is the last big hurdle. I pushed back last year to reclaim the month to take back some of the joy. I will keep doing that, but I suspect that there is something beyond my control that needs to happen through grief work, through time. Maybe it will take five years or six or eight or ten. I don't know. But it won't always be dark.

My cousin died 15 years ago. I don't know when the darkness lifted for my aunt. Perhaps it faded slowly so that she wouldn't have been able to tell me if I had asked. I didn't need to know when it happened for her. I know we all have our own timelines.

It won't always be dark you know.

It feels a little lighter already.


  1. This makes me cry. Your almost 5 years. Your 4 years and 10 months. Your dark time but your light going forward. It is good to read that it won't always be dark becuase that seems so very very far from now, from my 1 year and 3 months. No darkness. Is it possible? I too have joy but your December is my June. When I read you and see your heart and your changing and your ability to grasp the good and joy. I see it in myself too but it feels very far to think of it not being dark. Even the past year I can see the transformation, without reading back. We do keep on going...but when does it become remembering without sadness? Thank you for this post

  2. Renel, you are still so early on. I say that not to discourage you, but because I suspect there are people in your lives who think that a year is plenty and that you should be ready to move on. I'm sure I've said this before, but I think year two is particularly hard. Year one is all about moving from milestone to milestone, getting through the firsts. Year two always feels like the real beginning of forever or a different awareness of it. Here, at almost 5 years, there is much light and joy daily. I just have the occasional shadow and this rough patch at the end of the year. I have beacons, wonderful mamas, who like my aunt showed me that I would get beyond where I was. I'm glad I was able to shed a little light on the path ahead for you.

  3. I think our dark time becomes more a twilight of late evening. It's not blinding in it's darkness as the years pass. But 5 is hard. Five was different. Not as dark as it used to be but still ... different. Your writing is beautiful. Sorry I"m not stringing together a cohesive comment... but I wanted to write something. I hope as December approaches you find some light to guide you to Henry in the dark. It will probably be him :)

  4. Amy, you are coherent. I like this idea of a twilight rather than a deep darkness. When I think of darkness surrounding the time of Henry's death, I think of the long, cold darkness of a winter light, in part because that is the reality and in part because that is how it has felt mostly. I want to keep playing with the imagery or different kinds of darkness or light within the darkness I expect to give myself different approach to this time of year.

  5. Love reading what you write. Sending you light to help ward off the darkness. I like the idea of the twilight, too.