Friday, August 29, 2008

A Fifth Season

I left the house this morning, before noon. It was a decent hour and I was dressed with matching top and pants, pretty professional despite the no socks and sandals. I stepped out into the air and noticed immediately. The air was chilled and my nose hairs anticipated a freeze. I looked with panic at the trees. No they had not turned, yet. That means that the year marker has not arrived. I could keep my delusion of this summer season a bit longer. I made it to my car with my idiosyncratic belief, but the air. The air warned me, “The season will change.”

Fall will come and then the year will be marked, my daughter's first birthday, a Tuesday. It was a Sunday last year, and several weeks before her due date. My mind flashes to the day. My husband reads the list of pre-term labor symptoms. There were 10, I raise my hand at each one. He calmly tells me that we should go to the hospital. The contractions were coming at 3 minutes apart by the time we arrived. The rest is a blur and not a blur. It went so fast and not. The nurse asked me a series of questions and then the gurney and then the oxygen mask, her father at my side, me moaning, and the chatter, “where’s the doctor?” and “she’s on her way.” There was an ultra-sound and a shot for my daughter's lungs and finally a prescription over the phone for pills to stop the contractions. An exam, or two and some number about centimeters and then “no, I’m having a C-section” and then the epidural between contractions. Then I’m in the room with my arms out in a T and her father in my line of sight who taps a steady beat on my chest to calm me. And fear. So much fear. It’s too soon. We’re not ready. She’s not ready. The fear. Please, let her be alive. Let her be OK. She was tiny and red and crying and alive. There was my baby.

I don’t remember the season that day, but I remember the season of her life. Fall. Each day I parented her in the NICU I witnessed the trees turning gold and yellow, and brown taking over the landscape. I was hopeful, though, prayerful, with entreaties for her to survive so she could live at home with us. And then she died. Another season arrived with blankets of snow concealing the deadness of the landscape. Winter set in—set in my heart with a blizzard of blinding emotions and sheets of freezing rain attempting to numb my sorrow. We traveled and I packed her things to go with me. Spring brought flowers and color to the landscape again, and in my heart I did the work of tending my garden of grief.

I can’t find the analogy for the first summer of her death, only that once I looked into the sun hoping that it would blind me first at the eyes and then burn through to make me blinded to all so that like an infant I could not distinguish between myself and anything else, making me exist in all of it and not exist in any of it.

And in that place of being and not being would be a fifth season. A pause.

In our fifth season the tide would transform to crystal clear waters of deep blue calm—no ebb, no flow. Rather an expansive pool, a pause.

Falling rain would hang suspended so I may take my time. No markers of birth and death would be noted, and there would be pause to be within and among the sunshine. In a fifth season, I could revel. I could renew. I could reflect on watching summer give way to fall, the season of her birth and life. I could ready myself to watch fall fade into winter, the season that marks her soul letting go of it’s earthly hold on this earth, like the last gold maple leaf to release itself to the brown grasses below. A fifth season, a respite and a retreat, and a season to know the full weight of her life and death, so when the moon resumes its power over the oceans and the rains pour again--the sun--would know why.


  1. Your words are so poetic and paint a familiar picture. I love the idea of a fifth season, thank you for sharing this vision. The Fall will always be a special time for both of us - Caitlin and Liam's season. A season to remember their short lives, and reflect on all they have given us.


  2. Hey sweetie. It's me Calypso's Mommy from Miss. I never knew you had a blog.

    This entry has me in tears. God bless you luv

  3. So well said- what a wonderful mother you are! What purpose her life has had in touching so many! Thank you for sharing her with us- as you journey down this road!
    God Bless!

  4. What a beautiful way to describe those moments! I'm sorry for your loss.

  5. wow, you just gave me chills. i'm really glad to have found you and i have noticed comments from you left on all our blogs.

    i'm so sorry about caitlin. this is just so sad. my little silas was a fall baby too. fall will be a tough time forever for us but like amy said above, also a time to reflect and remember.

    sending you love,