I slip on the downside of Fall.

Waterlogue-2015-11-08-20-02-54 berries
pyracantha on path (Waterlogue)

Only a couple of days ago I was in love with the season and my new plants and all. Then last night, as I was airily driving to Vespers, suddenly it descended like a solid black cloud, the realization that I would not have my beloved companion with me this year. The days are cooler and damper and one can take a walk at any time of day and it will be pleasant, but he will not be here to share the  delights of the season with.

Today I took a walk alone, as I will have to do more often now, trying to hold on to what is left of me. I hoped the exercise would improve my weepy mood, and I thought I might take some pictures with my phone, because that urge is something  of me that remains, and it’s not overly challenging work.

Waterlogue-2015-11-08-19-59-19 leaves
turning leaves

The change in me is one of the griefs that is so disturbing. I don’t only miss my husband, my companion of 45 years, but I miss my very life, because it is changed at several levels. I know in faith, and even by the evidence of the recent months, that God’s plans for me are good, but now I feel the down side of the season’s changes in the way they mark the progress through the cycles of the years and seasons of life, and make me feel the sting of change and decay.

Last night I saw a photo slide past on my screen saver, set to shuffle family pictures, a snapshot taken of my husband when he was just a little boy on the beach, looking serene and calm. He didn’t know then that his life would speed up year by year, that he was racing toward the grave. I was stunned and angry. He comes forth like a flower, and is cut down: he flees also as a shadow, and continues not. (Job 14:2)

GL P1020633

The memorial service for which I made the koliva was also last night, just before Vespers, right after I was hit by the black cloud. As I served up little cups of the boiled wheat dish in the narthex several of us were remarking on how we can’t keep track of the passage of time; what year was it that Sarah reposed? We need help to remember, and to remember the things that we ought. It’s good for us to have these services and to pray for the dead partly because it reminds us that our own death is coming, and we should live in light of that.

IMG_0917 2015-11-08
Neighbor Elizabeth’s front yard

To remind myself of the realities that have sustained me through the last months, I spent some time this morning looking through the blog posts I have written since my husband’s death. I was surprised to find that the comments from you readers were the most comforting words to read, because you have suffered with me via my blog and have prayed for and affirmed me through everything. I wanted to write a private e-mail to so many of you, but I decided to write this post instead. Writing is a way for me to tame my wild thoughts and feelings as I organize them and put them into a perspective that is in tune with Truth, and the love of The Holy Trinity.

Several “real life” friends learned of my extra sorrow today. I received hugs and phone calls and e-mails, and prayers. I know that many of you pray for me often, and that is heartening. I ask my husband to pray for me too, as I know that in reality he is not far away, no matter how I may feel in the moment. Thank you all, for reading my blog, for praying. Thank you, God, for everything.

For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
(II Timothy 1:7)

by my front door

17 thoughts on “I slip on the downside of Fall.

  1. Emotions will be volatile for a long time, dear Gretchen. I know you know this….But sometimes it is tough to live it.

    I am praying for you along with so many others! Feel your self surrounded with all this support and care and love.

    Your photographs are great. You live in a place with much beauty!


  2. Oh Gretchen, I am so glad you shared your heart here with us. I saw my mom go through these similar feelings and experiences when her husband (my dad) passed away. She felt rudderless without him and it took a while to come to that place of learning how to be herself without him. They were married almost 50 years when he went home to heaven.

    Your post is so beautiful and I felt a consolation radiating from your words as you talk about your own dear husband. I wish for you that very real comforting presence of the Holy Spirit as you walk through these darkened days. May His sweet kind mercy hover over you and bring cheer.

    Hugs, hugs,


  3. Thinking of you very much. And thank you for the as always uplifting photos – love to see the changing seasons (and altitudes) in your lovely part of the world. I’m so sorry for your extra sadness – but I notice the title of your post is the beginning of a poem, or a poem in itself.


  4. As you look at that picture of that boy on the beach we can see our husbands not as rushing to the grave but as good and faithful servants who have touched our lives and many others with the reflection of Our Lord Himself.


  5. Your post is so honest and yet so faithful. It is hard to say anything about it except that I and so many love you, and that I am glad you are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, both here and in eternity, who pray for and love you.


  6. These times of sadness and loss sound so hard. I love you. The boys and I pray for you almost every day and will keep doing so. Hugs!


  7. I slip, you slip, he/she/it slips. We all fall down. . .

    But was it you, GJ, who quoted this for us, or maybe it was another good person quoting from a monk who was asked, “What do you people do all day?” Answer: “We fall down, and then we get up again. We fall down again and then we get up. We fall again, and then. . . all day long.” (for some of us it’s all life long.)

    I don’t mean to suggest that falling into sadness is wrong, just that you will get up again–and your brothers and sisters are with you, falling alongside, falling together, helping each other get up.

    Your honest reflections breathe life.


    1. You are so right, Albert. We are always falling in one way or another. I suppose whether we have the same problems over and over, or new ones like this, it’s not comfortable. Thank you for your kindness and encouragement.


  8. Dear GJ, The image of the photo of the little boy on the beach and you watching the photo slide by is deeply affecting. There is a whole poem in those two gazings. Lighting a candle for you tonight. May your dear husband’s Memory be Eternal.


  9. For the longest time I could only look at pictures of my husband as a little boy. Way back when he was healthy, and young, and looking forward to all life held. When I looked at more recent photos of him I realized he was very sick and we weren’t yet aware of just how sick he was. But now, I can look at those more recent photos and see the joy he had in our children and grandchildren, and I’m glad he lived to see so many wonderful events in our family. I also realize that he is now young and healthy again and looking forward to an eternity of wonderful things. We will catch up with him in God’s timing and nothing will every separate us from God or each other again.

    God still has new things for us here, Gretchen. He still needs us to be his hands and feet in this world. I know you know that. Just reminding myself! We are prayer warriors for our children and grandchildren. A very important role. I also think there are many young people in this world who are in need of some mothering. We can share ourselves with them as well. Those are just a couple of things God is speaking to me about. I’ve been such a hermit all of my married life. I think I hid behind my outgoing husband and forgot that I have gifts to share. God has many new things to show me, and I know He’s preparing many new experiences for you as well. God bless you as you walk side-by-side with Jesus.


    1. I so appreciate your reminder, Lisa – I remind myself daily, too, that being God’s hands and feet is nothing new, I can do this – it’s ever and always praying and serving and working, putting one foot in front of the other, by God’s grace and in His joy. Thank you!


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