I love this time of year. The cooler weather, the leaves changing, the anticipation of upcoming holidays. It’s a season of coziness. Soft warm sweaters, crackling fireplaces, hot cocoa…all those things of comfort.
I just got home from visiting my newest granddaughter in the Midwest. I went to help out with the new baby and her two older siblings. It was a lovely time and I so love spending time with my son and daughter in law. They have been the one part of my family who, when the revelations of D-day were new, were willing to accept my grief and pain. Unlike my daughters, who felt that Will’s issues were somehow my fault, my sweet daughter in law embraced me and my pain and loved me all the more for how it affected me. She is an amazing young woman who is fun, smart, accomplished and blessed with a joyful spirit. I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like because she is a two-hour plane trip away, but when I spend time with her I am always struck by how blessed I am, as a mother in law, to have this wonderful person in my family. I fall in love with her a little more every time I see her. How fortunate that she and my son fell in love and have chosen to spend their lives together. She calls me “mom” and her 5-year-old asked her why she called me that since his other grandma is “really” her mom. She replied simply that “Daddy’s mom became my mom too when daddy and I got married. She’s not only my mom but she’s also my friend…how cool is that?!” What a lovely explanation and such a simple statement of love and family.
What an amazing world it would be if we were all so accepting and loving! I think back to those early days in my trauma when I was so judged and my family was so cruel to me. I understand that they, too, had issues and betrayal and hurt. But I also understand that, on a basic human level of compassion and empathy, they lacked both and in some ways still do. I am still unable to speak with my girls about anything regarding my feelings of betrayal and healing. They prefer to discuss their feelings with each other and still blame me. If “the past” comes up in any way, they quickly change the subject as if nothing ever happened. It is denial in the worst way. It still hurts, but there is little I can do about that if they choose to ignore it. I think this is part of the reason I love being with my son and daughter in law. They are open about what happened and want updates on how both Will and I are doing in recovery. It is not the big, ugly elephant in the room that no one acknowledges. It is comfortable and normal and loving. I don’t know how to achieve that with my girls and it is still so hurtful and I fall into a depression over it so easily. It is definitely something that, through all our family has been through, I struggle with the most.
However, there is something about this time of year that sparks in me a tremendous gratitude and appreciation for all the blessings in my life. There is something quite beautiful about the idea that the trees, so recently in full leaf and at their prime, have so quickly changed color and are now losing their leafy protection to the elements. I know that the coming months will bring bitter cold temps and frosty winds which will batter these vulnerable bare trees. I know that they will be exposed to whatever Mother Nature throws at them and that they will withstand frigid cold nights and overcast, sunless days. BUT… In the spring, they will begin to warm from their roots up. They will be re-invigorated into growth and beauty. The brutal months of cold and exposure will have made them stronger than the previous year. They will produce even more full branches of even deeper and more prolific leaves and buds. Their trunks will have strengthened from withstanding the winds which bent them and built their inner core…but never broke them. They will leaf out fully and provide beauty and shade in the spring and summer. They will provide shelter for squirrels and birds and insects of all types. They will provide comfort and privacy and depth to our landscape. What a metaphor for betrayal and healing! As my family has been through such a cold, bitter, cruel “winter” because of Will’s addictions, I have faith that, with time, we too will come through it and have a glorious “spring.” I believe that as I have withstood all the rawness and bare vulnerability that betrayal brings, I will be stronger for it…I already am. I think that my family will regain its roots and it’s core will be strengthened. I know that our leaves have all fallen off and we still struggle with the chill and frost but, I think our empathy and compassion will grow deeper and that our family will again return to its full canopy of shade and comfort from the storms of life.
It is ironic that I love this season where everything is dying…yet it is so beautiful. It seems to me that this sums up my life so well right now. I see my kids as being in different seasons at different times. I see the same for myself. But, I have faith that we will all go through our different seasons at our own pace and in our own time. I believe that, although this winter season seems to be eternal, it will refine us and strengthen us and that we will be healthy and happy and will enjoy an amazing spring and glorious summer. There will be more falls…and winters. Some will be not quite so beautiful and maybe some will be harsh and unforgiving. But there will always be a spring and a summer. Always.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.” ~ Ecc 3:1-12