A retired English teacher, I reflect on the many facets of my life: retirement, reading, writing, gardening, faith, parenting adult children, grandchildren, loss, grief, healing from grief, surviving the loss of a loved one by suicide, hair loss, alopecia, aging, and living life at the foot of the Rocky mountains.
No man needs a vacation so much as the person who has just had one. ~Elbert Hubbard
I find I am really relating to this quote today. After being away from home for over two weeks, I've spent the day adjusting to life back at the ranch (home). Anyone who has been away from home for any length of time knows that it takes a while to adjust to the new time zone, unpack the suitcases, wash the dirty clothes, go through stacks of mail, and go through over 500 e-mails. I am also way behind on reading the blogs I follow. So, I spent the day easing back into real life. I don't want to rush into anything too fast because then I will truly need another vacation!
Jim at our first bed and breakfast
Ithaca, New York
My husband and I spent the past few weeks touring much of New England. We were a bit ahead of peak time for "leaf peeping" in Upstate New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire. I am happy with our decision to go on our trip when we did. It fit our schedule, and we saw autumn in her beginning stages without being caught up in the crowds. We beat the tour buses! While we were gone, we also spent some wonderful days in the Boston area with my youngest son and his family.
This trip was the first extended vacation we have taken since our nearly month long trip to Europe during the early spring of 2010. As many of you may know, we had only been home two weeks from that trip when my youngest daughter took her life. Since that time, I have been dealing with the shock and grief that came from this tragic loss. I wondered if I could ever leave home for any extended length of time again.
The good news is that I think this trip was extremely beneficial to me. It was not an easy trip. I was ill through much of it, but in the end, I felt healthy mentally, emotionally, and physically. In fact, in many ways, I believe I turned a corner in my journey through grief while we were in new locales. Being away from home, away from the place where I have attempted to come to grips the greatest shock and devastation of my life, seemed to help me put some of the shock of Julie's death behind me. By this, I mean that for the first time since her death, I found that I was no longer floundering in disbelief.
I needed to leave the past few seasons behind. This past spring and summer have been very hard on me emotionally and physically. I was dreading the change of another season even while I was very much in need to see this past summer put behind me. The summer had been so hot, so dry, so hard on me. I was ready for a change of climate. My soul needed some replenishment.
Ithaca, New York
We began our journey in Ithaca, New York. The damp, cool weather felt wonderful to me. As we made our way from Ithaca to Cooperstown, somewhere in the Adirondack Mountains, I saw the first splash of fall colors in the landscape. I asked my husband to stop so I could photograph the first display of fall flowers and pumpkins that I saw along the road.
The colors of fall seemed to give my heart new life. Grouped in a simple display next to this a large autumn gold barn, the yellow, red, pink, and rust colored mums were just garden variety potted plants that can be found in front of any grocery store this time of year, but somehow the colors blended together to form a memory of other autumns in my life.
Fall is my favorite time of year. I needed to love it again. I needed to be introduced slowly to its beauty again so I could appreciate its glory. Small dabs of eye popping splashes of color seemed to be just the right amount of contrast against the green shades of summer to awaken my love for a season I thought I would never fully enjoy again. I needed to be reminded that "for everything there is a season." I needed to know that grief also has its seasons. "There is a time for grief," but there is also "... a time for rejoicing." I needed to learn that one's heart is not forever dead to the beauty of life and nature.
I will remember these past few weeks as a time of healing for my heart. I have a new appreciation for health, for friends, for the changing of the seasons, for family, and for my husband. He has been so generous in the way he has provided wonderful opportunities and experiences for me. He has spared no expense. His patience has been beyond measure as I battled through illness throughout the trip. We survived navigating new roads and routes through country we did not know.
We had a break from everyday life and along the way found that we still had to deal with life and all that it throws at you. One never knows what one will encounter on any journey, whether it is across country or through life. This trip served as a reminder that I am blessed with a dear traveling companion. For that, I am extremely grateful.
Near Stowe, Vermont Jim & Sally in the autumn of their lives