Healing from Loss: October’s Colors

Images of Robin Botie's daughter, Marika Warden, photo-shopped with the last flower from Valentina's gardenThis week there were sunny warm days where I could pretend it was still August. There were clear star-riddled skies at night with a half-moon bright enough to throw moon-shadows. But we’d already had a few frosts. The flowers by my door were gone.

I asked a dozen people to tell me something beautiful about October.

“The colors,” several said. “The smell in the air,” said others. Sniffing the crisp air, I went on walks with friends and photographed hillsides of trees blushing red. Camille showed me a big wall of stone hearts just behind us that I missed, distracted by a swollen stream. Dennis pointed out huge root systems buried under the leaves in the woods.

“See the leaves raining down?” asked Virginia. Our feet made loud shooshing sounds as we walked through the light crunchy blanket on the forest floor. It was stunning. It mostly made me sad.

My daughter loved this time of the year. Marika could make Halloween last the whole month.  She saw lights and music, opportunities to dress up, silly pumpkins, and the holidays to come. I always saw mud, short dark days, flooding, imminent storms, and long months ahead lumbering under heavy winter jackets.

At home I turned up the heat. I made chili and started to stuff the freezer with storm food. I put out plastic battery-powered candles that flick fake orange fire. It was not beautiful but the candles’ glow and the aromas of hot hearty soups comforted me.

“Look,” said my friend Valentina, “you didn’t see.” She pointed to the single flower she’d placed on the table next to my manuscript that I have started to rewrite once more. The flower stood there, simple and sweet but cheeky. Still fresh, its long petals were just beginning to tangle. It had a radiance that made me melt.

“This is the last flower from my garden,” Valentina said.

I sat with it and couldn’t help but smile. I watched it like I used to watch my daughter’s hazel eyes.

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5 thoughts on “Healing from Loss: October’s Colors

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    How honored you are to get the last flower from your friend’s garden. I gave my last gladiola and raspberries, red peppers and golden cherry tomatoes for the ritual dinner for the Prayer Walk for Gas Free Seneca. October is both hard and beautiful–hard because of what is coming next. Thanks for your reflections, Robin. Rewriting never seems to end, does it? You have a great book there, so keep going.

    Reply
  2. Annette Corth

    Dear Robin, all I kept thinking about was how depressed you still sound in the face of a glorious time of the year. I wanted to hug you and tell you that it is OK to start to smile, to absorb the beauty around you as earth goes through her eternal cycle.

    Reply
  3. Gladys Botie

    October is the month when the mountains begin to blush. The golds and the burnt oranges make them look like a painting. October is the wake up month after a lazy summer season. The fall begins the new opera season — the opening of new Broadway plays among other cultural openings in New York. And it starts with my birthday weekend when my wonderful daughters come and celebrate with me at places where the food and wine is sumptuous and everything is special because we’re together.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie

      Yes, that is the best part of October, that first week in celebration. Food and wine and opera and your birthday. We sure know how to welcome in October. Cheers!

      Reply

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