The golden leaves are almost gone and I am late to talk about this beautiful month. On October’s first day, I finally had my hip surgery, another night in the hospital, and am emerging from those tremulous dark days. The surgery went fine and I am where i should be in my rehabilitation. I can do little walkabouts in the driveway and sit on my bench by the water, and partake in the glorious late October warm and sunny weather that has settled in. Early in the month, it was cold and blustery–lots of snow on the east side of the state–and whenever I lifted my head, I was saddened by friends and neighbors who’ve left for their snowbird locales, friends off on cross-country adventures, the longtime public radio hosts who’ve suddenly retired from the airwaves, every tree that looked more bare in morning’s light. And, oh the disappearing light! Every year I bemoan how fast it leaves the sky, but hasn’t it been quicker this year? There are years when the losses are so heavy…is there anyone who’s come this far in the pandemic that doesn’t feel that way I wonder.
Well, Time moves on and Don finishes buttoning things up whilst I watch. He mowed the lawn for the final time–why is it always at its most lush this time of year. The screen doors are off and he’ll get all those French doors sparkling clean this upcoming week so the bits of winter light can shine bright in the house. Now that I can participate a little in the kitchen, soup is on the menu most nights, and we’ve had fires in the living room when the sun sets at 6:15. We’ve been watching the MLB league championship series in the evenings–well, because it’s October. For me, it’s the kind of tune in/tune out viewing that lines up with my rehabilitation, before an early bedtime. I must be getting better because yesterday I brought out the dusting microcloth for all the windowsills that need attention. There are a couple of flies and bees that have been trapped inside which are are comatose and near death, and I’ve been able to get them outdoors for their final hours. Spider threads and webs stretch across the outside wrought iron chairs and glisten in the sunshine, as the Charlottes complete their final act in life. By the end of this month, the cold will have settled in, the flannel sheets will go on the bed, and we’ll hunker down for the long winter ahead. For now, there is such exquisite beauty in this season of goodbyes.
by Sarah Freligh
I’m driving home from school when the radio talk
turns to E.B. White, his birthday, and I exit
the here and now of the freeway at rush hour,
travel back into the past, where my mother is reading
to my sister and me the part about Charlotte laying her eggs
and dying, and though this is the fifth time Charlotte
has died, my mother is crying again, and we’re laughing
at her because we know nothing of loss and its sad math,
how every subtraction is exponential, how each grief
multiplies the one preceding it, how the author tried
seventeen times to record the words She died alone
without crying, seventeen takes and a short walk during
which he called himself ridiculous, a grown man crying
for a spider he’d spun out of the silk thread of invention —
wondrous how those words would come back and make
him cry, and, yes, wondrous to hear my mother’s voice
ten years after the day she died — the catch, the rasp,
the gathering up before she could say to us, I’m OK.