As each season passes, I tend to feel – or want to feel – that I’ve cycled through the receding season and am ready for what is to come. Especially as I’m facing the colder, darker days, it helps to be done with the summer heat until next year. I am certainly always ready for the light of spring after the long winter.

This past year, I had an extended season of grief after several losses. As winter approached, I had the distinct feeling that I would be settling into my personal darkness as the days shortened and would only get some relief when spring arrived. So I waited. But then spring came and went, and summer began to pass – and I added two beloved animals to the list of losses. So the exhale never came. And in any case, unless I really grab a hold of it, time seems to speed by and the seasons of light fall through my fingers like sand.

Now we find ourselves on the cusp of darkness and cold once again. But I’m just not ready.

Actually, I do love the fall. I love Samhain and Halloween. I love how excited my daughter gets as she plans her costume and sugars out after trick-or-treating. I find the crone’s approach thrilling and magical. It’s the season of death, but also the season of magic. The season of ancestors. I can feel it all so much more closely now than any other time of the year. But if I don’t get my fill of the lively, renewing days of spring and summer, then it’s hard to face the coming winter once again.

Weren’t we just here? What happened to the in-between?

Of course, the speeding time, the dying of the year, can’t help but remind us of our own mortality – if we are even willing to remember. Another Halloween means that another year of my daughter’s childhood has flown past. Another year of my life has gone.

I went for a hike this morning in the cold autumn gray. It rained, I was chilled, but the weather meant I had the trail to myself. I felt torn. I loved it, but also wanted to shout, “I’m not ready!” With the loses of the last couple of years – family, friend, animals – I’ve had enough emotional darkness. I don’t quite feel fortified to face the actual darkness of the winter.

That’s the thing about death, isn’t it? The lesson of the dying season? She doesn’t wait for us to be ready.

In a way, that truth seems to open up an unexpected opportunity to exhale.

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