Fall always makes me melancholy. I appreciate the cooler temps after roasting in the August heat (which this year extended into late September), but falling leaves remind me of the impending dark cold winter months.
They also remind me of all the times my dad would be in the hospital, the wind and mold infesting his deteriorating lungs with irritated inflammation that usually progressed into pneumonia. That is, until the year that it never went away. 1996.
I was pregnant with our second daughter, and after losing two previous pregnancies, I was struggling with the thought of losing yet another child. I was on bed rest for much of the first trimester, with our oldest at three and a half years not understanding why mom was laying on the couch all day. She would bounce on me trying to get me to get up. Well, the spotting/bleeding stopped, and baby and I both survived that tsunami of emotion in November.
Dad went into the hospital 10 days before Christmas, having various issues. Pneumonia and bowel problems. A scope revealed nothing in his lower gut, but I still felt an impending sense of doom. On Christmas Eve they did a CT scan, not understanding why his lungs were not clearing up. And at lunch Christmas Day, the woman covering for his regular physician strolled in with her entourage and announced to my father that he had cancer and it was already in his liver. As he stated, “that was a bit difficult to swallow with the pumpkin pie.” Said Doctor acted like it was no big deal and calmly stated they would be scheduling him for a bronchoscope the next day to confirm what the cell type was. His liver was full of marble sized lesions–the radiologist had extended the study when he saw “something” in the base of my father’s lungs. Instead of going up further in his lungs, the sneaky crap went down into his liver instead.
He lived a year, which was longer than anyone expected. Christmas will always be a mixture of happy and sad, and the fall weather continues to haunt me with memories. Our oldest daughter also battled these in her younger years, but now loves the fall colors and cool weather as her memories and anxieties of that time fade. Or at least did. Now a new memory will imbed itself in her psyche as her boyfriend’s father slowly fades like the fall leaves as he loses his physical battle with cancer.
Sadness permeates our days as we ache for the hurt we can’t prevent. Mature, strong from her own battles with loss and sadness, daughter struggles with what to say, as though her social work degree should give her all the answers. I hug her and tell her to just be there, reminding her of what she has already done while her love sits at his father’s side. Feeding his dog, being there to listen, and just keeping up with her won studies are enough for the moment.
In my alone moments, I pray for peace, for M’s pain to be controlled, for the youngsters to not lose their faith…because in the end, that is all we have left.
Outside, yellow leaves cover half the yard while others stubbornly stay green, refusing to change or turn loose just yet. I am the green. I don’t like change. But it will come, inevitably.