Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Autumn/Fall (08/27/09)
TITLE: "F" is for ...
By Margaret Villanueva
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For many years, fall was my least favorite season. Here’s why.
“F” is for fall. As a teen, I wasn’t thrilled about the approach of fall. I knew that September meant school, and even though I loved school, I didn’t love its start. It meant that the lovely summer days of swimming, beach, and vacation were over and it was back to homework and study. But in 1972, I learned to hate the fall.
“F” is for fair. My life changed on the first day of fall, September 23, 1972. The night before, my brother and I had gone to the fair. We went there together and we had a wonderful time. I was fifteen and he was twenty-one, and for the first time it seemed that we weren’t brother and sister. We were two friends out having a good time. My mother, a diabetic, had begged us for salt-water taffy, and so we bought her some. I remember the pleasure with which she savored this illegal pleasure.
“F” is for final goodbyes. The day after the fair, early in the morning, I heard my mother’s walker bumping down the hallway. I heard the thump of her body as she slumped into a chair. I heard the rattle in her throat, sounding ghastly and raucous in the quiet night. I heard her say, “I love you” to both my brother and myself as my father took her to the hospital. It was the last thing that we would ever hear her say.
“F” is for football. My father took us to a football game on the night my mother died. I’m sure he meant it for good, but I have always hated football since that night. Some club was selling balloons. I don’t remember who was playing, but I will never forget the sting in my eyes, tired and sore from weeping, as I watched the balloons floating up into the sky. I watched them until they disappeared, wondering if my mother could somehow see them, too.
“F” is for funeral. We buried my mother in the fall. I remember feeling so miserable—my mother loved bright colors, but the flowers at her funeral were orange, yellow and brown—colors of fall.
“F” is for failure. I gave up for many months after my mother’s death. School meant nothing. Friends meant nothing. I was lost and alone, the only girl in a house of men, and I wanted nothing more than to run away and die myself. My grades dropped into the toilet and I didn’t care.
As I grew older, the pain of my mother’s death stayed with me. I couldn’t understand why she had been taken. I missed her terribly and wanted her comfort and the peace of knowing that she was there, waiting for me to come home from school. I wanted the smell of cookies when I walked in the door. I needed something—anything. And there was nothing--just the cold reminder that everyone else was in just as much pain as I was. It took me many years to get to my next point—
“F” is for future. As I walked through the emptiness and pain, I realized that God was still there, and in some way so was my mother. At the beginning, honestly, I didn’t care. What difference did it make that she was safe in God’s arms? I wanted to be in her arms! But as the years passed, I began to realize that God could be mother to me as well as father. I began to look to him for comfort, and when I sought it, it was there. I could have faith in that fact. The loss of my mother brought me into that understanding in a way that I had never experienced before. It took time, yes, and I had to walk through pain and grief to get there, but I’m thankful. And so---
“F” is for faith. God means us all to walk through trials and fire, but he doesn’t mean for us to walk through them alone. I pray that if you are walking through the fire of grief, you remember to seek the hand of God. He is there for you, and he’s closer than a brother. Lean on him and listen—you can hear his voice in the suffocating night of grief, bringing you words of comfort and peace. Even if you can’t hear them, they’re still there. Trust in him.
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