Life is in transition again.
Nature is doing its annual shift from long, hot summer days to dark, cool fall evenings.
As I write this, our backyard is showing a scattering of yellow and brown leaves among the green, but soon it will display that short burst of orange, red and gold that signals the onset of winter.
We just went through the High Holy Days, which are an obvious opportunity to reflect and transition to a new year. It’s a time to start again, refreshed and renewed.
But for me, this year is different. This fall’s transitions have been deeper and more emotional.
At summer’s end, my daughter was married in a beautiful, much-anticipated celebration. COVID-19 informed and modified, but didn’t stop, our happy day. Still, a few friends and relatives were unable to attend the outdoor ceremony due to pandemic concerns.
Now, both of our children are married and living their own lives. Raising your children to be productive, loving and self-sufficient adults who contribute to society is the shared ambition of every parent. Both weddings were warm and loving, and seeing our mission fulfilled is an amazing experience, but it’s still bittersweet to see your children go off to build their own families.
We’ve watched with joy this year as our son and daughter-in-law sent our granddaughter to school, where she’s thrived after a year without interaction with other children. Her younger sister misses her during the day, but she benefits from extra time with Mom, and both are happy, well-adjusted children. And we are happy grandparents.
At the other end of the emotional spectrum, one of our best college friends was diagnosed with cancer this summer and given only months to live. My husband and I drove to central Pennsylvania to visit him – on what happened to be our wedding anniversary. We talked about good times and kids and even future plans.
Because of the pandemic, we met outside, and without our usual long, loving hugs. While we’re hopeful our friend will somehow beat the odds, our visit was also an opportunity to say goodbye.
Meanwhile, my husband and I both celebrated milestone birthdays this year, and so we are learning about Medicare and a host of other issues we all face as we get older.
Because of COVID, our wedding anniversaries and birthdays for the past year and a half have been quiet or delayed celebrations with just immediate family.
Adjusting to the notion that there are many more days behind you than in front of you is one of life’s most difficult transitions, and is all brought into sharper focus in the midst of a pandemic. But our experience with our daughter’s wedding and visiting an old friend were reminders that love and loved ones can turn virtually every transition into a positive experience – if we let it.
Fran Ostendorf, Editor