As autumn closes in, I can already feel the impending chill of winter.
It is as if we are suspended for a moment, while autumn exhales a long sigh of submission, at the same time winter is inhaling its first eager, icy breath. Skies turn grey, leaves turn brown, and people turn inward. In this instant, poised between light and dark, between abundance and death, transformation is all around us.
Last night, my husband and I attended a memorial service for a vivacious 17-year old girl, who died suddenly this week of a brain aneurysm. She was the daughter of dear friends, but also a theatre kid, so she might as well have been ours. As we took our seats among the 1,000 others gathered there, the shock and raw grief was palpable, as was the regret for lost chances and missed opportunities. It brought into stark clarity the need to live in the moment as much as possible.
But as we listened to the stories told by friends, and teachers, and songs sung by cast-mates, we began to take what comfort we could in their common message, best summed up by her principal, who wished he would have said sooner, “Thank you. You made me a better person than I truly am.” In her short time among us, this bright and lively spirit, transformed us all.
Autumn is change; a closing, a shift. It is a kind of acceptance of the passage of time, of our own mortality, which does not necessarily herald the end, but merely a part of a never ending cycle. Life never really stands still, and we never know when that last warm day will be, or when that last hug is truly the last.
So how do we cope with the whims of fate and the relentless advance of time? Live in the moment. Seize the day. Make the most of now. There are simple moments every day to enjoy while they last. In time, another transformation will take place, the sun will shine, the birds will return, the leaves will grow again, and the cycle of life will go on.