I can feel fall coming. It's in the taste of suddenly delicious apples, in the loamy scent of the leaves brought down by Hurricane Irene. I can see it in the shifting light, hear it in the geese screaming overhead. The air when I walk the puppies nips slightly at my sun-spoiled blood. I need shoes...and a shirt with long sleeves.
Tonight my Pagan Study Group discusses letting go.
My first lesson in letting go came when I decided to file for divorce from my abusive ex-husband. He had begun to threaten me with getting a divorce. Three times over the course of six weeks, I heard him say it. I was a stay-at-home mother at that point, with four very young children who ranged in age from 14 to 14 months. By the time he said it the fourth time, I was able to say, "You'll hear from mine first."
The next one came when I was laid off the first of what turned out to be three times in five years. As my lawyer ex waged legal warfare, I was just staggering onto my feet when my fledgling corporate career was knocked off its track. By the time I was laid off the third time, I decided that Someone was trying to tell me something (every company I worked for lost successively greater amounts of money) and retired from the for-profit world. Needless to say, I don't miss my days in the cubicle (and frankly can't imagine how anyone could).
The third one came as I looked back at my parents and my grandmother and how they had all chosen to live their lives, and how those choices affected and impacted me. My mother left my father and made another man give up God. My father went to California and invented an industry. My grandmother held on to her bitterness, to her anger and her jealousy until it ate her up and brought her house to the brink of shambles.
The fourth came one morning when my oldest daughter, Katie, who was then 13, came to me in tears. "I had a really bad dream, Mom," she confessed. "It was terrible... I dreamt you died. You were in a coffin and we were at church, and it was terrible." And as I rocked my baby, I wondered to say.
And then, somehow, I knew. Katie had just started her periods a month or so before. "Well," I said carefully, as I held her in my arms. It was amazing how much of her still fit. "In a way, I have died to you. You don't need the same kind of mommy any more, as you used to. So that mommy, that old mommy, is dying - she's dead. The dream is showing you that that mommy is dead. But that doesn't mean that your real mommy is dead... I'm obviously still here. But I'm going to be a new kind of mommy now. Because that's the kind of mommy you need. And if I stayed the old kind of mommy - the mommy who was there for teething and toilet training and that kind of thing, that wouldn't be very helpful, would it?"
"Hm," she said, and I could see I had her attention, which was rapidly becoming a rare and wonderful thing. She raised her head and pinned me with that piercing stare that hadn't wavered from the day she opened her eyes on my belly. "That means you have to change, too."
"Yes," I said, as my eyes filled with tears. "Yes, my baby, it does." And then we both cried, for the mommy and the baby we used to be.