Fall is in the air, in the way the mornings smell and feel, in the crackling cry of the Clark’s nutcrackers. These noisy birds are annoyed if I come too close and interrupt their pinon harvesting. It’s too early for them, isn’t it? I’m not ready for fall yet. Does this all portend an early frost? Will the flowers be felled before what I perceive to be their time?
I harvested the peppermint this morning and hung it in the sunporch to dry. This is a late summer task, not a fall one, but still that word “harvest” bothers me.
What I’m really not wanting is what follows fall—winter, snow, ice, cold. Yet these cycles teach me about how nothing ever stays the same. The grape hyacinth and crocus are the first to bloom in spring and the first to fade. All through spring and summer beauty shines, then disappears—lilacs, daylilies, the tall yellow yarrow I love so. Our irises are still impacted by last year’s army of voles who also killed most of the rhubarb. We have not yet finished clearing away the branches that were broken off by our heavy, late spring, snow.
Hail clattered everywhere last Sunday. I held my breath, remembering the baseball-sized hail that crashed through roofs and totaled cars in Colorado Springs last August. Sunday’s hail passed through without doing more than knocking off a few flower buds and petals.
Miscarriage, birth, life, death, illness, injury—they are all reflected in nature. If I can’t be present with change, I will suffer constantly. My garden and yard, the seasons, the moods of the sky and the mountains remind me of this at every turn. I don’t mourn the sun when it sets each night. I did not mourn it when it eclipsed on my birthday either. Why? Because I know the light always returns.
Last week I noticed a new volunteer hollyhock, not two feet tall, blooming a brilliant red. Another gift to be grateful for until the frost takes it away.
I look back at a journal entry about the despair I felt six years ago as I approached the first anniversary of my daughter Randi’s death—before her time. There have been so many steps and stages since then. Tears still arise unexpectedly as though from a bottomless well, yet even then I feel astonishingly blessed by life, and amazed and pleased that I can feel so blessed despite her death. I still often and regularly sense her presence to remind me that nothing, no one, is ever totally lost, totally gone.
This October 6th, the seventh anniversary, will include a new quality, since that’s when Hampton Roads is publishing my book. I think of this as bringing light to the darkness of that hellish day. Interviewing for and writing this book supported me through the winter of my grief and into its spring. I composted my sorrow and used it to nourish and feed my project. Now it is about to come into full bloom.
My prayer is that The After Death Chronicles will nourish all who read it, just as so much and so many have nourished me and it. Isn’t it ironic that I shrink away from fall for fear of the winter that will follow, when fall is my favorite season?
If you have after-death communication stories, I invite you to share them with me at http://www.AnnieMattingley.com. Just click “Share A Story” in the menu and follow the instructions. If you’d prefer to tell me your story verbally, let me know and we can arrange for that.
The After Death Chronicles: True Stories of Comfort, Guidance, and Wisdom from Beyond the Veil. To be released by Hampton Roads on October 6, 2017. Pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound. Find out more on my Book Page.