I feel kind of like I’ve been holding my breath all year. Or rather, I held my breath for most of last year and then in the moment I thought it would be time to exhale, life doubled down.
This was the a summer of mixed firsts: the first since moving to Colorado that I didn’t work at Townhouse, that really I was barely in Manitou at all. The first where I was married to my best friend Josh, but we didn’t have a home to call our own. The first that I spent without Dr. von Rockenstein in what felt like forever.
There were amazing times. For example, I attended three weddings since Memorial Day weekend and not only were they all incredibly fun, beautiful, and special, but I believe in all three couples with all of my heart. I got to see four really great people (one of whom overlapped with the weddings!) graduate after so much hard work, and I fully believe in their futures as well.
But this summer was also weird and hard and sad af, all the while both sharp and dull, depending on the day. Within it, I alternately wildly between hating every moment and hating the world (only the bad parts, but rage can confuse), wanting to feel absolutely nothing, and desperately desiring to appreciate every single moment I got to experience, each one of Mama’s Sunflowers.
So the last thing I expected to get this year was a Fall. I don’t even care for pumpkin spice so much, but Fall is my absolute favorite. It’s all the things you see in memes — sweaters, scary movies, leaves.
I could make a list of 1,000 reasons that I love Fall the most, but today it was about one morning, and then one moment. My parents are away and yesterday, I opened every single one of the windows on the main floor and in Josh’s and my temporary room down below. Our first married apartment, for better and for worse.
Normally I struggle in the mornings, in those first waking moments where if no nightmares were involved, the calm beauty of sleep fades into the harsh light of day, even before I open my eyes, and I panic.
This morning, I didn’t feel that way. The weighted anxiety blanket on top of me and the presence of my best friend peacefully sleeping next to me is normally a cocktail of cozy that is complete kryptonite to facing the day, especially in light of my everyday morning existential crisis.
Not today. I didn’t have a manic burst of “YES TODAY I AM GOING TO JUICE AND FIX MY LIFE!” Though I thought about it, and weighed out my financial produce options while taking a shower as part of my positive mental spirit for the day, albeit a quick one because yesterday the basement drain got all horror movie on us and started overflowing. Probably in preparation for Fall, so I can’t even be mad at it.
The cold air from the open windows didn’t make me want to hide under the covers today; it made me curious to see what the day had in store.
When I walked upstairs, the windows were closed, but the night air that had swept into the room remained, as Josh had stayed up a little later into the night before “shutting down the house.” Scents of apple and autumn candles lingered, but the best one of all came as I opened the door to let Crispin in, and Chip out.
Every morning since she died, I have two rituals for Doc. I kiss the spot on the couch where she used to sleep, then I say hello to her final resting spot out back. Lately we’ve been moving our things out of storage and I put all of our stones, decorative and collected throughout the years, over her gravesite.
I hadn’t been back to the spot since May, even though it’s only about 10 or so feet away. But I put down all the rocks and hoped she somehow knows that they used to share a home with her and now surround her, and I hope they can be a peaceful and joyful reminder of all of her homes where she was loved completely, every day.
Today I didn’t walk across the yard to visit, but I opened the door to let out Chip and say hi to Doc, and noticed that her spot looked unusually plush. Branches and leaves have fallen; time has marched on, but in a gentle way. I closed the door and for the first time this year, in possibly many years, I smelled Fall. It was cold and it was fierce and it was filled with hope ❤