My God it’s beautiful outside today. About 65 degrees, no clouds, and so bright that when I close my eyes, I can still see the brilliant-colored trees behind our house. The sunlight has such a warm glow, God must be gazing directly upon our tiny speck of Midwestern prairie. And yet the air is crisp, like the first bite of a freshly picked apple. A slight breeze delivers both the smell of fallen leaves, and the brittle rustling sound of those who still cling to their branches.
Fall has long been my favorite season. Always a few weeks too short though. Never as picturesque as I imagine, the chorus of color never quite perfectly timed. Fall usually puts me in a slightly melancholy mood too, triggering a deeper search for metaphor and meaning in the change of season. For the past three years, fall has felt bittersweet. Beautiful as ever, but tinged with notions of decay and impending loss. I am like the leaf, clinging to life on my branch, trying desperately to reveal my true colors before the inevitable gust of wind arrives and forces me to move on.
But learning to live amidst life and death has been a key part of my path to acceptance of both ALS and my mortality. I’ve realized that imperfection can and should be embraced. Death and decay are a natural part of the landscape. To ignore them is folly, to merely acknowledge them is reckless and myopic. So this year I’m learning to not only savor the beauty of radiant trees, but to delight in the barren ones as well. I’m choosing to revel in the juxtaposition of good and bad in the landscape of my life. Besides, fall isn’t really about dying. It’s about making way for rebirth. In that spirit, I intend to be battling ALS while still basking in the warm glow of sunlight with our new baby next spring. Much like Eva and I are doing on this fine fall day.
Special Note: Two friends of mine are currently fighting to stay alive with apparently incurable cancers. Ken and Mike, here’s to the three of us living another gorgeous day, still clinging to our branches.