Autumn is always a weird time of year for me. Leaves change, but the weather stays tank-top warm; I can buy cheap-ass school supplies because I didn’t need them in August, but I’m not gearing up for anything. Time frees up as summer sports finish, I bake more, families get together for food with the mid-Autumn Festival and Thanksgiving, and I inevitably start thinking about Christmas and how behind I am (again, godsdamnit) if I were to hand-make everyone’s presents this year.
It’s a weird time.
Everyone talks about the transitory nature of things around the time of Mabon, but that’s not really what I feel. I feel like it’s a resetting time, a time for everything to stay the same. Summers are the ones that are really full of change: people get married, have babies, graduate, send kids to camp, start new jobs, move across the country. Winters are sleepy, plotting times, my favourite season, full of thinking, baking, cooking, crafting, dreaming, slowly pinning down hopes for the new year. Spring is all talk, credited with great change, but is really just full of people packing, making lists and realizing, preparing for all the real change that takes place in the summer. But Autumn, Autumn is a weird time where nothing’s really happening anymore, but nothing seems to have stopped either. A time of winding down without anyone noticing, yet inevitably it must happen because, hey, come Yuletide we’re all snuggled in and ready for the snow and New Year, as close as we get to human hibernation.
I’m not comfortable with the idea of people I know dying, worse still the parents of people I know dying.
It’s something to be out of the city, I suppose, one more layer of insulation. I used to dream, a whole three years ago, of living way up in the hills of Quebec, high up in skidoo-only territory (for January-March anyway) where I’d still talk to the world, just not in person. Being in a city where I can wander around the shop-street and hang out with people, actually knit in a coffeeshop, or go bowling, is making me remember what I missed about my hometown in the first place, but I think I’d hold off on moving back just to keep that extra distance — all those rocks and trees — between me and the parents of friends, getting older, frailer. We all know it’ll happen eventually, day by day, as the months slip by, but I’ll hide and hear about it third-hand, eighth-hand, shielded by a four-hour drive and a couple days delay on the phone call.
I’m not ready.
I’m filled to the brim, comfortably full with news, and updates, and a zillion milestones, markers, year-past stories, and random cat-facts and… all of it is sort of burrowing down under the weight of tonight. I’ve not felt the bursting-out need to scream anything out here for awhile, and even though I feel the pull again (thank you Autumn), it’s going to have to wait until the next time.
In the meantime I’m going to remember Koko’s mom, her shiny black hair and big smile that seemed out of place in her (to me) seemingly stern face. Mostly she’s a shadow in the background of the mental photo I have of Koko. Mostly she’s that disembodied voice, heard in the background on the phone one day, asking us why we didn’t just head to the mall and pick up boys, if we couldn’t decide what to do?
I’ll pull together what small fragments I can find of her in my memory and bring them to the funeral with me as my meagre offering beside all the flowers. I’ll stand with everyone else who didn’t know her that well and, as my best yoga instructors always told me, hold my intention in my heart.
I’m not ready for this. But I have an idea where to start.