Crisp cool air meets the skin on my face. The distinct smell of freshly fallen leaves permeates my nose and I briskly walk to the car to avoid the chill to my spine. My thoughts revert to the sweetness of home. A small town nestled in the Hudson River Valley of New York State, Red Hook is an area noted for its beauty during fall foliage. For me, autumn screams cinnamon apples, pumpkin picking, apple orchards and the smell of my mom’s hearty, warm, aromatic and delicious fall meals. Taking a deep breath, I close my eyes and I can see my mom in the kitchen of my childhood home. These thoughts bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.
Suddenly, without warning, my mind flashes back.
My car is traveling the roads that take me home. The landscape of the autumn Catskill Mountains on my driver side, my mind deep in thought, the sound of my friend’s voice on the phone, I make the longest three-hour journey of my life. My old high school pal meets me for both a cup of coffee and some courage as I arrive home to say a final goodbye.
Seven years have passed since that fall day. Seven years since I caressed my mom’s hair, whispered my words of goodbye, gave her a kiss and squeezed her hand to let her know… it was okay to go. I drove away from that small town that day, my heart heavy, my eyes filled with tears, bearing the title of ‘sole survivor,’ with nothing but my memories to cling to. It’s ironic that a season noted for beauty and filled with warmth also emotes such sadness. Perhaps it’s life’s way of offering me balance for survival? These days, I hold those memories tightly and shed less tears. This time of year will forever remind me of my mom.
Kim Libertini is all too familiar with grief and the Co-Founder of Goodgrief App, the social network for loss available for less than a latte, for download in the App Store, Google Play and www.goodgriefapp.com. You can follow Goodgrief App on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.