A whimsy of sadness
A phrase came to me earlier this week. It glided in on a whisper so delicate I almost didn’t notice. It landed lightly on my cheek in the area between a wink and a smile. In that middle-ness that exists in less time than the initial escape of air that will become the flap of a butterfly’s wings. Between an “ahhh” and a “sigh.”
I was outside during that rarest of times — a near-perfect day that, for me, seems to exist in those few moments that lie between fall and winter. Just as winter’s icy glare is slowly turning toward fall, fall turns away and holds the hand of summer. Summer at its best. No claustrophobic humidity like the smoochiness of an uber-huggy relative scented heavily with “Evening in Paris” perfume who pinches your 5-year-old cheek and squeezes you like someone valiantly attempting to extract the very last bit of toothpaste.
No, it’s the perfect partnership of warmth and freshness. The hand-holding of the best of what was and the best of what is right now, all wrapped up into one lovely moment.
This phrase came sashaying to me like a lazy leaf on a playful wind. As I breathed in the fresh air and smiled at the warmth, it curtsied, then spoke, “A whimsy of sadness.”
And it made perfect sense. A winsome moment tinged with a little sadness. A light moment filled with sad-kissed joy. Joy that somehow carries more joy than before because it now travels with sadness. The joy that was always sweet, is somehow a little sweeter. Wistfully, whimsically sweeter.
Before, my fall joy involved my husband, Dave. We loved fall. It was our time. The crunching of the leaves. The light breeze. The smells. The lazy warmth on one end of fall and the briskness in the air that’s ready to break off into winter on the other. The colors that become the most beautiful right before they fade. The geese vee-ing across the sky, heading south because they cannot do anything else. God created in them the absolute need to go south. Somewhere built into the DNA of our relationship, Dave and I had the need to celebrate fall. We looked forward to upcoming years when we would one day retire and spend the entire fall reveling in its fall-ness. We saw ourselves living in a log cabin, both writing fulltime and coming together to play and laugh and simply enjoy our lives together.
I see the fall flowers in full bloom. I hear the rustling of leaves as Dave watches squirrels leapfrogging across an acorn-laden trail. I smell the warmth of a lingering summer as Flippy and Floppy, the resident bunnies, run crookedly around the squirrels. I sense my favorite bird, the red-tailed hawk, flying above. Its reddish-brown feathers sparkle, shimmering in the sunlight. I smell coffee brewing. I turn my head as laughter wafting through the air touches my cheek like the brush of a butterfly’s wing. Ahhh. Sigh.
To everything there is a season, and my season with Dave has passed. I don’t want to let it go, but it slowly falls through my clenched fingers like smoke rising to the treetops.
And yet, I still love Fall. It’s the season of urgency. Enjoy it right now. It won’t last long. It promises nothing. Winter is right around the corner. Sometimes that corner is soft and cushioned. But sometimes it’s so sharp it threatens to cut us into two. And sometimes, it does. For a while, at least.
A whimsy of sadness. All the falls that Dave and I shared come together in a soft breeze carried on warm currents of memories ... of things that were and things that may have been. And yet, “to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
As I slowly open the door to this new Fall in which I now live, I gingerly step outside. A whimsy of sadness visits. And yet, I know that God is close to me. He’s with me during the hard times. There’s great comfort in knowing that when I lose my way, He’s right there.“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” (Isaiah 30:21).