“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.”
-Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart
There are times in life when a choice is made to “expose ourselves to annihilation” as Pema Chodron states. We make a choice to let go of a relationship that no longer works, to be vulnerable with someone we love, to expose a secret we have worked hard to keep, or to let go of a job in order to move into a next phase of life.
There are as many other times, however, when it takes no bravery at all to fall past the cusp of difficulty into the darkness of total annihilation. We have made no choice, and yet everything is different, harder, worse, and it seems it may be that way always.
“There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”
–Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
Flowers and I have a long history soaked in sadness and beauty. For me, flowers are linked to death, linked to joyously being alive, linked to the connection between the two.
My flower story begins with my beloved Grandma Rose who passed away last October. We were very close, and I had the fortunate experience of living with her throughout most of college with my oldest son and also of being a close partner with her as she traveled through her death experience.
Grandma Rose was a lover of beauty and had an artist’s soul. Her house was decorated with her own art works and the works of her many friends. Her backyard leading out to the barn was also crafted by her loving and expressive hands. It had a small coy pond on the back patio surrounded by an expansive garden where lavish bounties of perennial flowers grew and bloomed of their own accord each spring.
“… You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen…”
Fall is akin to the word bittersweet for me- beautiful yes, but also full of remembrance for what has become past. Each fall I am reminded of every fall before, and the last couple have been quite difficult. Fall signals the most tumultuous time in my marriage. It signals the beginnings of a slide into a wintery depression. Fall is the time when my grandmother Rose died last year.
Mel shared with me an insight about fall, however, that has somewhat affected the way I perceive the season.