Sep 26 2012 in Kare's Blog by Kare
I had a few minutes to myself, sitting out in our backyard as my dog, Tess, sniffed about and did “her thing.”
The air had a little bite to it but the sun still felt warm on my face. As I sat, quietly thanking God for all the blessings in my life, golden leaves fell all around me. It’s too early for the maples, but the black birch in our yard is well into its color change. I dread the long shadows, the shortening of daylight.
The season itself, autumn, I love. But it’s what comes after that frightens me. It’s not so much winter as it is what winter may hold. I fear the grief I may face there. With Mom approaching her 84th year, I know that one of these seasons will inevitably be one of loss. It’s a loss that I once thought I could never bear.
We have been so very close all of my life. Much too close, as the lines where she stops and I begin have always been blurred. My dad was well into his alcoholism by the time I came along and I was born into the role of keeper of Mom’s sanity, which was not the lead role but rather best supporting actress. The maternal lines of depression had been bequeathed to Mom and at times the demons she fought had to be kept at bay if the family was to survive–if I was to survive.
Mom liked to laugh so I became the clown–light-hearted while heavy-hearted. When she was strong, we became partners in crime trying to thwart Dad’s drinking which, of course, wasn’t a possibility. When he’d stay out late getting drunk, we’d play games to “keep our minds off of it.” We’d wrap our arms around each other, huddle in the corner of the couch and will the bad “possibilities” away.
I knew I wasn’t okay if she wasn’t okay. My sense of humor became my ally in keeping her okay.
And, my job is to keep her okay.
I learned to be ever vigilant. But the good news is that my dad got sober when I was 16 and stayed sober until the day he died. The bad news is that my role never changed. As I became an adult–something I’m still trying to do at age 58(lol)–I became a grown person with a little kids’ need to still be the shadow and, as a shadow, I could only “be” if the light shined on you.
Not at all healthy but it was familiar. It’s like the response to the question,”Why do you continue to sit in your old sh#*t?” Answer: Because it’s soft and warm and it smells familiar.
Through the years, Mom and I became ever closer. We did a lot of traveling, enjoying New England and had so many laughs. We have always had the laughs. A neighbor said the nicest thing a few years back. She said that, when she walked passed our house, nine times out of ten, there’d be laughter floating out the windows. I loved that. I love that no matter what, we can laugh, even if it cost me my childhood.
So I sat in the backyard and felt the sadness fall around me with the yellow leaves. The fear of losing something so precious to me, a heavy cloak. But then I called myself back from the future because the truth is, no one knows what winter will hold. It might be ME who doesn’t emerge into spring’s light for all I know. All I do know is this moment.
And in this moment, the sun is warming my face, the leaves are doing their dance and the mother I love so much is warm and comfortable in her bed. That’s all I have for now and it IS enough. Thank you, God, for autumn.