What's not to love about Fall? The changing leaves, crisp mornings, crackling fires and apple cider and the prospect of Halloween. Ah, such a wonderful time. And for someone whose birthday is in October, Fall should be extra special.
And it is...but it's also my worst time of year too.
As late September rolls around, my anxiety levels go through the roof. I have so many painful memories of Fall, and they just keep coming back to me - making me dread what else will happen too. Many of my memories are small - hardly worth mentioning - but some are huge, and the combined weight is hard to stomach some days.
Days after my 8th birthday, I made a huge move - from my home in Oklahoma, where my dad and many of my family lived...to a new home in New Jersey, with a new stepdad and 3 stepsiblings who resented my existence. I moved to a new house, a new school...and had to start all over again. And for the next 4 years, the cycle kept repeating - I'd visit my dad in the summer, then return to find my mom and stepdad had moved to another new house, in a new city - and my brother and I were once again clueless, friendless, and struggling to adapt to yet another school.
Years later, my first marriage imploded spectacularly the day before my birthday. To hear the most painful news of your life, and then dissolve into a crying, yelling, angry/sad/overwhelmed mess in the middle of JCPenney's handbag section...yeah, that leaves an emotional scar. Just 2 weeks later I was at a divorce lawyer's office...and spent October and November arguing with my soon-to-be ex over the remnants of our marriage.
To cap it off, that same year, my Grandmother passed away Thanksgiving evening. The memory of cuddling my 20-month-old daughter at Grandma Dollie's graveside - protecting her from the cold, drizzly wind...it hurts so much still that I can barely write it.
And now, today, I received the news that my cousin Donna has passed away. She was fighting pancreatic cancer...and the last few months she has slowly been slipping away. It's not unexpected news, and in a way it's almost a blessing - this has been very hard on her, of course, but also her husband, her son, her parents.
But the news brings me not just grief at Donna's passing...but all of the emotional baggage that Fall carries. I find myself, sitting in my cubical at lunch, struggling not to just lay my head down and weep at it all.
I will be so grateful for the first snows of December this year....