I’ve written before about my favorite season, fall, (www.dhstringer.com/2017/10/), but now it’s different. The last few weeks have been focused on preparations for winter, which here in northern Michigan can be a long season. We have hauled the kayak and beach chairs up from the lake, applied netting and chemicals on plants vulnerable to hungry deer, put away birdbaths, gathered seeds from the garden flowers, checked the furnace, removed screens from the windows, etc. I stared at the pine needles coating our roof and decided that no, I will hire someone else to go up and deal with them. And we have also looked ahead to work that will be done when winter finally leaves: new stairs off the decks, some exterior painting and staining, a couple more trees, possibly a dock and a pergola.
All of this occurs in the context of waiting for medical news. Yes, we are planning for next summer, and we are planting trees with a view to how they will look ten or twenty years from now. But on Friday, Kim went in for her round of blood tests, CT-scans, bone scans and X-Rays, all designed to look for her cancer’s inevitable (?!) return. This leads to a whole series of “what if” meditations that we can’t quite abandon, especially in the context of Kim’s ongoing pain and fatigue and the several falls she has taken during the last two months, usually while gardening or hauling her camera.
We learn the results of all those scans today, Thursday, a few hours after I post this blog entry.
The author William Saroyan, dying of cancer, famously said, “Everyone has got to die, but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case. Now what?”
Now what, indeed. Kim continues to rise, most mornings, to celebrate the arrival of another day by photographing the sunrise (now, fortunately, after 8 a.m.).
We pause to taste the applesauce Kim made from our neighbor Karen’s apples. We gather pine cones for a large wreath Kim will make to attach to the garage. We hug, avoiding the sorest spots on her back. We research lighter cameras and lenses so Kim can move more easily down the steps to photograph birds on the lake.
We continue the daily rhythms of our lives. Kim washed our garage windows on Saturday while I tried to track down a missing FedEx shipment. Laundry. Vacuuming. Shopping for groceries. Cooking (by Kim). I dry the dishes she washes, unless she is too exhausted and needs to lie down.
Fall, as a season, is associated with mortality, as the name implies, but it’s usually associated with a cyclical pattern leading to spring and rebirth. To my way of thinking, however, mortality, on the individual level, is a bit more final than that, though if reincarnation or heaven are in the cards, I’ll accept them. Fall can mean so many things, going back, I suppose, to Adam’s biblical Fall, mirrored by Kim’s recent fall in the garden amid the yellowing leaves. But fall also sharpens our appreciation, and sunrises mark beginnings:
From Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73:
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.