We’re walking down our road, which twists like a winding snake stretching out parts to warm in the sun, when she tells me.
She reveals that fall is her favorite smell. I’m not surprised that the slightly musky aroma of damp leaves being warmed in the sun, then cooled in the breeze, only to be soaked in dew again, soothes her. She has always found the good buried deep within the bad. Offered encouragement where all seems futile. Longed to be the one who helps the disadvantaged know blessings.
Everywhere around her, leaves are dying, insects are spending their last days, even the sun is suppressing his strength. But my teenage daughter, wrapping her long flaxen hair in a ponytail as she steps lightly in her plaid rain boots, is savoring the day, down to the scent.
I’m still having trouble letting go
of an amazing summer. And every fall has been difficult for me since the one before I knew her.
But her birth, 15 autumns ago, was an intense symbol of beauty rising out of sadness.
The previous fall had been soaked in tears, more intense than any I’d experienced before or since. That was the year I learned that a mother can never find a sufficient way to say goodbye to a child she has never met.
Tears for the sweet baby I lost will occasionally swell up from a long-ago-closed vault and moisten the corners of my eyes. But she brought bubbling joy to our lives after abysmal sadness. And she is still filling my hours with happiness and moments with mirth.
That fall, 16 years ago, I remember walking down the concrete walk on a busy city street.
The metropolis mayhem I was surrounded by that day seems so foreign to me now, since the nearest traffic light to my new rural home is 11 miles away. And instead of looking up at 10-story-tall office buildings while sirens careen by, today I admire lazy reflections in handblown windows of a centuries-old church while I sit idly alone at “the corners,” the only intersection my town knows.
But that day long ago on a hectic city street, I was lost in thoughts of grief. Despair. So alone. Until my glance fell on a brilliant orange leaf, so out of place, but perfectly placed for me that surreal moment, that day. The keen awareness of God’s ability to place beauty in the midst of death and sadness overwhelmed me. That brittle leaf assured me that God could take even my darkest day and craft something beautiful from the sadness. I took that leaf home, pressed it, wrapped it in contact paper, and tucked it among His promises and words of life in the pages of my Bible, where it still serves as a reminder of God’s goodness.
The day after my deep loss, the day after finding my beautiful bookmark, I had spent most of the hours in bed, in tears, and in the living Word. Many verses slowly, slightly soothed my heartache, but one chapter in Jeremiah was a balm for my brokenness. God assured me I would one day joyfully dance again.
I will build you up again…
Again you will… go out to dance with the joyful.
Then young women will dance and be glad,
young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into gladness;
I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.
Today, as I walk the serene path around the lake beside my plaid-booted ponytailed blessing from God, even the beautifully iridescent leaves are dancing. It is a gorgeous gala that I’m oh-so-thankful to be enjoying with the always-optimistic young woman by my side. The one whose favorite scent is fall. The one who always reminds me, every day, that I serve an amazing God who uses all things for good. The one named Autumn.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17
This was not the blog I intended to write. I thought I was simply going to offer a brief description of the beauty my family has been overwhelmed with and enveloped in, in our new home by the lake, where it empties into the river, in rural New England. But this was the blog that poured out of me. It has not been easy to pen, but I’m certain it’s what I was supposed to write all along. I just found out, right before publishing this, that today is “Remembering Our Babies Day,” so indeed it is what I was supposed to write.
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