It’s the first official day of Fall. It’s still pretty hot here in Georgia, but you can feel it coming. You can feel it in the crispness of the cooler air early in the morning, and in the dusk that sets in just a little earlier at the end of every day. It used to be my favorite time of the year. It brought a cool breeze. It brought beautiful warm colors. It brought the ability to throw on cozy sweaters and jeans. It brought warm comfort foods and everything pumpkin. It brought bonfires and roasted marshmallows and Saturday night football viewing parties. Don’t get confused, I know y’all know I really don’t care about the football games. I’m just there for the snacks and the company, yeah, mostly the snacks. Ha.
But I CAN tell you which team will win the game with at least 95% accuracy, based on my personally developed “super scientific uniform theory”. I kid you not. This is a real thing. Basically, I pick the winning team based on the uniform they are wearing. The colors, the fit, the presentation, I take it all into account, all the way from the helmet down to the shoes. Laugh if you want, Jeff certainly doubted my “super scientific theory” too. Until he saw how many times I was right! I guess that’s a little off subject. So I’ll get back to what I was saying. Y’all just let me know if you want me to choose a winner for ya. 😂
Fall still brings all of those things. But two years ago, Fall brought me something else. Something that would change life as I knew it forever. Well, in reality, that one Fall day didn’t alter the course of my life. The day Jeff first entertained the thought of becoming involved with her is the day that my life changed forever. My world was dismantled bit by bit with every thought, every text, every conversation, every meeting between the two of them over the course of that year. So that particular September day was not the one day my world was destroyed, it was just the day that I came to the full realization of it.
Last year, I struggled a lot with it. The triggers were everywhere. The thoughts and memories sometimes overwhelming. Because that same crispness in the air that I used to love so much was the same crisp air that I ran out into to try and catch my breath on that awful day. Because those football games reminded me of the one he was getting ready to go watch when I saw those messages on his phone that were proof of his betrayal.
This year, it doesn’t have as strong of an effect. I can’t say the anniversary of that day hasn’t affected me at all. I still had some level of anxiety about it. But it was more of an annoying quiet hum than the load roar that it used to be.
Last year, I had wanted to plan something to mark the day. Something to try and give it new meaning, and new memories. This year, I didn’t feel as strongly about it. Earlier in the year I bought tickets to go to a Kari Jobe concert. When I saw the announcement for the concert, and saw that it was local and just happened to be on September 10th, I figured what better way to spend that evening than filling it with worship music? I figured that would be a good way to drown out any negative feelings that crept in that day.
As it turned out, D-day came and went without leaving much of a footprint this year. September 10th fell on a Sunday. We got up and went to church as usual. We went to lunch together , just the two of us. Jeff was actually the one to bring it up. “So, today’s our happy anniversary I guess? Well, more of an unhappy anniversary? But happy because we survived. And because our lives are so much better now than they were.”
And that was the extent of our acknowledgment of the day. As it turned out, the concert, which I had actually forgotten about until that afternoon, was cancelled last minute because of Hurricane Irma’s impending arrival. So we stayed home, cozy on our sofa with bowls of chili and watched some tv.
I guess my feelings kind of go back and forth on what this day should be. A part of me wants to fill it up with new things and new memories to give it new meaning. But another part wants to let it pass with no acknowledgment at all. To take its power away by making it just another day on the calendar.
I think the reality will fall somewhere between the two. Because in reality, I’ll most likely never forget the date, so it will always be acknowledged in some way. But I never want it to be in a way that glorifies the ugliness of that day, or gives those memories the power to ruin my present day. Because September 10th, 2017, is not September 10th, 2015. And September 10th, 2018 and every September 10th after that won’t be either. That day is gone. It happened, and we can’t change it. And every year, though the date may be the same, our lives are not the same. So we will acknowledge it, but only with a sense of gratitude of the goodness that we live in now, and that we have put one more year in between us and that terrible time in our lives.
When I think about it, it’s kind of fitting that this day happened in the Fall.
We don’t necessarily think about it, because it can be so deceivingly beautiful, but in essence, Fall is a process of death. The vibrant green trees slowly fade to warm shades of yellow, orange, and red. They look so lovely on the outside, that we don’t often think about what might be happening on the inside.
Slowly, the colorful leaves begin to loosen, and one by one, fall to the ground. There’s only a few at first, so we just walk through them, hearing them crunch under our feet but not really giving them much thought. But as the wind gets stronger, the dying leaves become weaker, and suddenly they are everywhere, covering the ground. Smothering the grass beneath them.
Hiding the walkways and covering the paths that we could once see clearly.
It is messy, this falling away. And once the leaves have all fallen, the trees look painfully bare. The falling away is followed by a season of emptiness. Or at least that’s the way it seems. But it is the Fall, the shedding of the old, that makes way for the new. It’s a painful process. There’s no getting around that. But it’s the only way to shed what no longer belongs. To get rid of the diseased leaves. To reset. So that when the Spring comes, and it always comes, there’s nothing hindering its growth. And what grows from those empty branches is fuller, and more beautiful than what it was before. So much stronger than it was before the falling away.
The seasons of life can be painful. But there is beauty in all of it. Even in the falling away. Even in the dead of the barren winter. Because it’s making way for the beauty of Spring, and the fullness of Summer. Some years it brings varying levels of death and life. Sometimes the changes are small, and we come through it mostly unscathed, barely even noticing that the seasons changed, and other times, the changing of the seasons of our lives is so sudden and so devastating that we wonder if the winter will ever end.
Don’t lose hope. Spring is coming. It always comes. And in the meantime, look for the beauty in the season you’re in. It’s there. It’s always there.
When the spring comes, you’ll be stronger. You’ll be fuller. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Yes, there may be losses to mourn. You’ll certainly never be the same. You may bear the scars of the storms you weathered through the winter. But that will be what sets you apart. It will be your mark of the goodness of God. A symbol of how we can survive bad things. How the storms can wound us, but that those wounds can heal. A symbol of how all that we know can fall away, lost forever, but that something beautiful can grow in its place.
Amy Thurston Gordy