Saturday, August 29, 2009

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn. ~Elizabeth Lawrence

Every year my internal clock recognizes the first signs of autumn, long before the temperature changes. Rays of sun penetrate the air at sharper angles, are more yellow, richer and thick. The air itself is no longer opaque from the summer humidity and heat, but is clear…feels fresh and crisp on my skin and in my lungs when I breathe. Leaves, not yet their brilliant yellow, orange and red, whisper secrets of their colors to come, hints of their future. Hanging loosely on tree limbs, they wait for autumn winds to tug and pull them from the comfort of mother tree to gently fall, float and land safely on the ground below.

There is something about this time of year that conjures up a deep well of melancholy for me…not quite sorrow…not quite gratitude, but a feeling that lands somewhere between the two…a yearning of things not yet revealed, but that wait to be. The autumn season brings with it an inherent need for me to reminisce, ponder and visit the places of my life that have been points of transition, change and revelation.

My son’s birthday is in the fall: September 24th to be exact. Fourteen years ago Hank was born. A violent thunderstorm raged outside our hospital room as he and I worked together to transition him from the comfort of my body to the world outside. This week he started high school. These days when I talk with Hank it is generally on his terms. My questions are often responded to with a “I dunno“ or some other hard to understand series of words. His tone of voice hints at frustration and sometimes annoyance that I asked the question in the first place.

So I often wait for him to initiate the conversation. I let him take us to the places he wants to explore…with me serving as guide, sounding board, his friend…his mom. He is taller than me and his voice much deeper than it used to be. With the musculature of his back beginning to unveil the man beneath, I feel small and almost frail in his presence. I can remember the night of his birth holding him in my arms and nursing him to sleep. The thunder in the distance, the lightening on the horizon and the comfort of steady rain outside our window, the two of us there, getting to know each other.

And now, I see his wheels turning, the silence and solitude of a young man searching…exploring…seeking answers from within. At times I long for the ability to return to the days of before…hold in my arms and tell him all is right with the world and know that saying this is enough…know that this is all my boy needs to feel comforted, safe and secure.

But the truth is, my internal clock is signaling that the time is ripe for us to transition from the relationship we have known to something new, different, sometimes scary and often times right. Hank the leaf and me the tree. His full colors are not yet present but are slowly revealing themselves in the decisions he is making and the person he is becoming…his waiting now for the winds of his future to gently tug and pull him from the tree of youth to fall and float to the solid ground of adulthood.

Birth to life…summer to autumn…leaf to ground…boy to man. Another year passes and I am present in the melancholy…resting somewhere between sorrow and gratitude. I love you Hank.

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