“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2; 4)
Of course we all understand that the seasons are inevitable. It is a simple fact about planet Earth that we are taught at a very young age: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall will all come upon us without our prompting the planet to do so. It is part of the balance that God created, and we have learned through several thousands of years to adapt to these seasons and make preparations and accommodations for them.
Its 2016 and I live in a first-world country, so my preparations for fall and winter are fairly easy. I go up to my attic, I retrieve the fall wreath for my front door, I sift through the bins of the boy’s clothes to find their pants and light jackets, and I move the pool bag filled with bathing suits to the back of the hall closet (I want to keep it within reach because, well, we live in Florida and there is always a chance that swimming could happen no matter what month it is). I don’t have to make sure our freezer is stocked or that there is enough fire wood. These things are of course nice to have on hand, but for the most part, we are not living in fear of the chance of not surviving the upcoming season change. We take for granted that our basic needs can be meet with a simple trip to the big box store. The farmer and I have a saying whenever we leave on a trip, “Whatever we forgot we can go to Wal-Mart and get!” Life has become pretty easy for Americans.
Most people’s livelihood no longer depends on the seasons of weather and daylight change. For most, the promise of fall is simply a welcome breeze after a long hot summer. The seasons changing on a farm, however, are a different concept all together. When your livelihood and your income depend on a real harvest of real crops that are affected by the real weather that happened during the preceding months, you learn that the seasons are more important that the smell of a new candle or changing the wreath on your door. Sometimes harvest time is exciting and promising when the farmer knows his crop yields are high. Other times, the opposite is true, and the crop has to be brought in anyway, but there is disappointment. The cycle will pick up again, always with hope and anticipation of what will come of the new work that is done.
As I get further and deeper into a brand new season that I’ve never experienced before, the season of grief over the loss of my Dad, I am seeing a new meaning to the cycle of seasons. When the appointed time of my Dad’s death happened to our family, the sharp change in our emotional climate was brand new. Within grief, there are many conflicting feelings that sometimes happen alongside each other. There are times when all at once, I can feel extreme surprise that my Dad is in fact dead; happiness that I really knew my Dad for the complex and amazing person he was; sadness that my Dad is no longer here to be with us on my son’s 11th birthday; wishing he could read this and all my future writings and then hear him tell me how much he enjoyed them; and also laughter and happiness remembering Dad’s jokes and sense of humor at random times; and finally, slight hope that maybe Dad is really still here..... it's a completely new set of seasons. I didn’t know my calendar for 2016 would hold these types of changes in weather, but I trust they are a cycle. I do trust that they have “a time” and they will change. I will change with them and I will learn to adapt and grow through them.
So many people have told me their own story of losing their parent, and it’s been such an encouragement to me to see that these seasons of grief behave like the seasons of Earth. There is ebb and flow, joy and pain, times to be happy, and times to mourn. I can’t thank all of you enough for your words of kindness and support to our family during our new season. Dad has entered a new season as well, and as I type that, I’m smiling…because I know the weather there is fabulous.