The last October I had with her was breathtaking. There are not many things in life more beautiful than A Midwestern Fall. I had been living in California for several years at that point, and the distance had forced me to forget how stunning the changing into my favorite season was. When the cool air snuck in and the colors covered the foliage, my eyes were in heaven and my heart was light. As a child surrounded by such wonder, I had frequently wished there was a way to prevent those leaves from falling, but I always knew they had to.
When the Cancer came to invade my mother’s precious body again, we all knew that it would not be set back the way it was the first time. I knew that if I only had a handful of months left with the woman that taught me nearly everything I know about being who I am, I was not going to be in California. I very quickly made the decision to pack my bags and take my children on a road trip that had an open end. I was going home to be with my mother.
On a crisp, beautifully cool morning, I was driving her to one of many Chemo treatments. I had a hard time keeping my eyes on the road as the colors outside the window distracted me from everything else that was going on. I turned to look at her sitting beside me and the sunshine was so bright directly behind her that she already looked like an angel. I thought for certain that God must be pleased with her. She just looked at me and as if the sunshine weren’t bright enough, her face lit up so intensely; I was suddenly overwhelmed with fear at the loss of her. She shot me back a smile that radiated so much love, any worry I had was calmly soothed. My eyes, heavy with tears, turned back to the road where I continued taking her in a direction that I knew was going to make her ill.
During the time I was home, I watched the leaves turn from a deep wonderful green to sweet, thoughtful yellow’s, bold, strong reds and beautiful, vivacious oranges. Yet somewhere in all of those colors, there were leaves that remained green.
My mother was as strong as those trees that held the leaves. She was sweeter and more thoughtful than any shade of yellow I’ve ever witnessed. She was bolder and stronger than the most vibrant red and simply more beautiful and vivacious than any color of orange that exists. It just seemed that she was one of those green leaves falling before it was ready.
The months that followed were amazing yet very painful. My head and heart were so confused by all of the emotions that come with watching someone you love die, even a year after she left us, I was still trying to figure them all out. I had slowly come to the understanding that no matter the color of the leaf, there is a time when it must fall. There is a cycle to all life that is hard to grasp until you’ve witnessed the leaves falling, no matter their color. And even with all of the confusion and sadness, the cycle continues and new leaves grow to remind you how beautiful and amazing everything still remains.
(originally posted in 2010)
My mother lost her battle with breast cancer on January 24th, 2009. She was 54. One month after this picture was taken.