Surrounded by the beauty of the golden and amber leaves dancing their way off the trees, I couldn’t ignore the feeling in the pit of my stomach. The chill in the air, the smell of the wood burning fire-place, which I had dubbed the “Winter Smell” in my eight year old mind, all reminded me of one thing; I was alone.
Weekend after weekend I spent my afternoons in my paternal grandparents’ beautiful yard, complete with a gazebo and hot tub. Each morning we woke to “Nana’s Famous French Toast” and each evening our beloved grandfather, “Baby” spoiled us with ice cream and treats and watched Nickelodeon’s “Are You Afraid of the Dark” with us. Still, morning came and the unspoken but ever-present void cast upon me like a dense fog, prohibiting any sight.
Breakfast and Nana’s Famous French Toast rolled into afternoon and as any eight year old would be, I was sent outside to play. Except I couldn’t. Instead I found myself sitting on the front stairs reflecting on what was missing and desperately trying to identify the “uncomfortable feeling” that I had come to associate with the “lonely season” (Autumn).
It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized that “uncomfortable feeling” was, in fact, anxiety. Crushing anxiety that riddled my tiny eight year old self as I sat on those front steps and wondered if my father would ever bother to show. He never did. Sometime in my twenties I realized I loved the Fall. I realized I deeply loved the foliage, the brisk air, the hay rides, pumpkin picking, and apple picking. Autumn wasn’t “the lonely season” as it had been when I was a helpless eight year old little girl. Instead it was a vibrant, beautiful season full of all that Mother Nature has to offer!
My father robbed me of many things but today I am proud to say he no longer has the power to rob me of Autumn’s beauty, and he surely doesn’t yield the power to make me feel uncomfortable, anxious, or much of anything.