Six years ago on my husband’s birthday in October, our friend’s three year old daughter, Eisley passed away. She was the delight of our group of friends, the only kid in the group at the time. Now most of us have our own children and we are acutely aware that things can happen to them. This awareness seems heightened each year as we head into fall. Her mom calls this the “hard time of year”.
Up til now, it’s been perpetual summer around here with bare feet in the grass, margaritas on the patio and playing outside after work. In Southern California we’re still running our AC and snacking on ice cream in late October. But now it’s getting to be the time of year when the season finally changes. The mornings are dark and cool. The Santa Ana winds die down. The dates on the calendar and our own sadness creep up to remind us that children die and colonists take over. The crisp mornings are a smack of reality. We can’t live in summer forever.
Reality leads us to find a rhythm for the season- one foot in front of the other, alarm clocks and dinner bells. We struggle to find a cadence that works for now, in light of where we are and what we know here. We are in the thick of two working parents raising a toddler and attempting to stay connected to our community, family, and issues we care about. Right now we are up early with a little one clinging to us and up late working on house projects. There is joy in the snuggles, exhaustion in the unending needs, and both frustration and exhilaration in the daily juggling. Yet what we know here is different than what we knew before.
Here we know that this season won’t last forever so we have to be both wide awake and gentle. Here we know that we can’t do it all so we own our choices and select carefully what we do, when and with whom. Not because we are afraid but because we are unafraid of what others think of what we do or don’t do.
Here we know our friends are hurting so we make meals and phone calls and coffee dates.
Here we know our nation is hurting so we alter the cadence to include phone calls and writing and marches and prayer vigils and long conversations that aren’t meant to fix it all at once. Having our patience tried makes us long-suffering, deepening our love.
Here we know that strangers are hurting too so we attempt to make room, putting down our phone, paying attention in line, willing to open our door, to give a word of attempted hope.
And maybe it’s what this season brings internally for us or maybe it’s the natural letting go of the carefree summer, but at this time of year we find an intentionality and purpose that even born out of pain, reveals a significance to our relationships, choices, actions, and life. We know now that it doesn’t last forever and we want the time we have to count. We know that how we live matters to people around us, known and unknown. The things we know now matter.