I RECENTLY HAD one of those feels-like-real-life dreams where I was chatting with a friend, and abruptly declared, “I’m so lonely and so sad,” bursting into sobs. It was a heaving sob that woke me up. Later in the day, when I was feeling a bit down, I recalled the dream and thought: if you can dream it, you can achieve it!
I promise the entirety of this essay won’t be too maudlin.
Grief has been a common theme of the past eighteen-ish months. Not only with our global issues, but with multiple losses of friends and family in my case. While I’m still processing and experiencing these losses, I’ve noticed a theme in my grief: it shows up so wildly different in any moment. Like a shifting tide. When I learned my friend took her life after living with schizophrenia for years, I ran my tear ducts dry. Bawled while doing the dishes, while in the bathroom, while watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Luckily, I was still in quarantine, because grief doesn’t read the room.
About a year later, when my cousin died in a tragic car accident, I was standing in the middle of the Utah desert, staring out into the seemingly endless expanse of sand and rock, just standing and staring. The world felt so big and so small, all at the same time. Time made even less sense, and in some ways, I don’t think I have left that spot in the Devil’s Garden. In the past few days, I’ve teared up at commercials, TV shows, my dog sleeping, some jangly folk songs, a group of ducks, a gentle breeze, and on and on. All of these bring up the big questions: What does it all mean? What if it means nothing?
I believe fall is our Mother Earth showing us that processing loss is essential to all processes; by acknowledging and respecting the end of things as winter approaches, we can be prepared for the new growths of our spring seasons.
There have been many experiences of loss, kindness, and joy before, between, and since these events. And there will continue to be, because life continues to cycle in each moment, and will continue to do so until its end. And in some ways, that is enough of an answer to those questions.
The seasons are one of many tangible reminders of these cycles. I think that’s why I resonate with the fall season. I believe fall is our Mother Earth showing us that processing loss is essential to all processes; by acknowledging and respecting the end of things as winter approaches, we can be prepared for the new growths of our spring seasons.
I also really enjoy pumpkin soup and a good cardigan.
While I didn’t enjoy Halloween much growing up—I do not enjoy being scared, but that’s a story for another time—the season has grown on me in the past decade as I learn more about my family history, Día de los Muertos, and the cycles of plant life and harvest. For those unfamiliar, Día de los Muertos is not “Mexican Halloween,” and I only connect them here because my experience with their themes is connected in my life. As someone who has felt comfortable thinking about life, death, beliefs, and the like since I was a kid, seeing the world publicly acknowledge and even celebrate death is comforting. I feel more connected with others, with the Earth, with the universe. And also, did I mention the pumpkin and sweaters?