I’ve come to call it “The Season.” Late spring. Almost everything has bloomed here in Northern California by now, and Mt. Diablo – when we’re not in the middle of a drought – is transitioning from green to golden, before it settles into its summer garb of combustible brown.
The Season kicks off with the first Mother’s Day commercial on TV, and a sudden inflow of emails offering discounts on floral bouquets. The card section in CVS gets super sappy. Friends begin posting photos on Facebook of their kids and grandkids and their own mothers when they were our age. Or younger.
A few weeks later, Memorial Day comes, The weekend also marks the unofficial beginning of summer. It’s OK to wear white again. Flip flops become the footwear of choice and women resume their weekly pedicures. No one wants to cook indoors any longer. Windows get shut and the AC gets turned on.
And after all that, the culmination of The Season. The anniversary. June 1st.
The Season is the time of year I lost my son. Not “lost,” as in I forgot where I put him. “Lost” as in gone forever.
The two holidays, the changes in temperature, in flora, in people’s outfits and eating habits are all indicators, reminders that a period of surplus sadness is soon to follow. “Here it comes. Brace yourself.” This is The Season’s message.
The holidays that occur during this time of year are particularly harsh. The first mercilessly reminds me that I get to spend the rest of my life child-less. The second holiday honors those who have perished in the loud wars of history. My son’s battles were in the silent, internal wars of mental illness. These particular holidays seem poignantly aimed at dredging up sad memories. Which they do.
Friends and family begin to check in. I know they worry. They don’t want these weeks to be harder on me than necessary. They want to make sure I eat. I can tell from the tone in their voices that they don’t want me to spend the day alone. They ask what my plan is. It seems important to many of them that I have one. I think it’s sweet.
The 7th Season is upon me, and life just keeps on keeping on. It continues to throw its punches of loss (because everyone I know keeps aging, damn it). It continues to hurl the indignities of illness and achy joints (because I keep aging). It continues to deliver me into unforgivably ill-timed heartbreak (because despite all of our collective aging, people still go through periods of arrested development and do stupid, hurtful shit).
I want to ask whoever’s in charge, “Could I please have one of those get-out-of-jail-free cards? Like a permanent one? Pretty please?”
It turns out past big suffering does not inoculate one against future big suffering. It’s one of life’s design flaws, if you ask me.
I don’t have a plan this year. I may be alone. I may not. I may eat. I may not. I may scroll through photos of my son, pause at one of his goofy expressions, and laugh. I may cry. Who am I kidding? Crying’s going to happen.
And here’s what else is for sure…
Like all the seasons before, and all the seasons after, I will turn my face towards the not yet scorching heat of the sun and into the soothing caress of a gentle, late spring breeze. I will dress for ease of movement, and my wardrobe’s palette will gradually turn brighter. I will eat whatever is currently being harvested and be grateful for Earth’s bounty and the friends who offer to share their meals. I will gather loved ones to me and find solace in solitude.
I will weather The Season.