I began writing this about six weeks ago during a relatively quiet few moments. Little did I know just how thunderously my new season was about to begin.
Is it just me or do your thoughts also turn to the seasons of life as nature introduces change? Here in Colorado we’ve learned to never pack away the sweaters just because spring has been announced. And never plant those flowers before Mother’s Day…or later. Summer sneaks in with howling wind or tempting breezes. Autumn leaves swirl to the ground, trees only recently fat with green seem as gangly as a teenager’s legs. Winter’s arrival here can be quirky—blowing snow or warm enough to fire up the grill. Some people—especially my friends in the American Midwest!—escape their season of winter by firing up not the grill but the van or RV: “Gotta’ get out of here and head to Florida!” sums up many of their remarks.
Although some may escape the weather, none can bolt from the seasons of life. They arrive with varying intensity. Little ones kept snugly at home walk into kindergarten. A strapping young man enters the college dorm miles away from the safe family circle. A friend’s life was recently tossed into the dark, roiling ocean of grief at the unexpected death of her son. An aging, but previously healthy, man is only now arriving home after five long months in hospital and rehabilitation. The creeping tentacles of dementia steal the person we once knew.
Even without events such as these, as I step off the merry go round of modern life long enough to be quiet, I realize that my own seasons are passing. How I approach that change will deeply affect how I live in the season. An honest look in the mirror or the annual physical exam, starkly reveals that “a person’s days are numbered.” Denial is useless, retreat leads to apathy, resistance can hurry us along toward frustration and anger. So how can I live—truly live—in new seasons?
That’s when I stopped writing, probably to begin supper prep or…? Although I’ve been living in the season of my husband’s battle with failing health (pulmonary fibrosis) for just over a year, we’ve adjusted quite well to a fifty-long oxygen tube, wheelchair transport, medical appointments, etc.
Until Saturday morning, May 7th, when Bob’s earthly life suddenly ended and he stepped into the presence of the God he loved. Although death is, perhaps should be, always expected, I was surprised by the sudden intrusion of this enemy as there had been no unusual precipitating symptoms. Rapidly I was surrounded by efficient and profoundly caring emergency and police personnel and others well trained to care for my husband’s lifeless body (but so overwhelmingly alive spirit and soul) as they helped me take baby steps into this new season. I was unprepared for how perfectly peaceful and unlined was his face in death—and new life—as I for the last time kissed his cheek and said a final, “I love you.”
I’m into only the first month of this season, and I’ve been surrounded by love of friends and neighbors and family. The “business” of death is filled with details but thankfully Bob and I had done much planning so I am better prepared than many. I’m finally experiencing solid, refreshing sleep. Weeping comes and goes. I’m learning (key word) to quickly acknowledge and take note of changing emotions, then openhandedly give them to the One who understands all aspects of grief, asking him to let me feel deeply yet also walk into and through this season with the peace he has provided so often in other seasons over the years.
Every season in nature brings its own uniqueness especially here in Colorado: the heat of summer with a few unexpected hailstorms; the cold and snow of winter; blooming tulips in spring; and vibrant colors of autumn. And now I live in another season of my life. There’s no one here to share the unexpected joy of deer wandering onto the lawn, the fun of a Rockies baseball win, a new recipe to tempt the tastebuds. But the Creator of all seasons loves and sustains me, the Holy Spirit lives within me, Jesus’s life and words encourage me. I want to live well in this season, reflect on the past, live peacefully in the present, and be alert for God’s plan for my future.