I felt a deep, familiar pang as I woke the last few days, as if an old wound had reopened. Today, the sense was even stronger, almost stealing my breath as I wrapped myself in a blanket against the chilly dawn.
I found myself staring out the window, after I had pulled it closed, yearning for something I couldn’t name. The cold air surprised me, and as annoying as it was, made me cry.
No. This isn’t hormonal. I do cry a lot, but that’s just me. This is different. It’s a melancholy that fills me as summer moves to fall, a moment that has haunted me for as long as I can remember. I find myself flooded with beautiful memories of love and loss, as if my life is passing in front of my eyes. I smile as I recall the good, and feel regret at what I missed.
When I was younger, I assumed this came from having to give up barefoot beach days for stiff, tie-up shoes and a school I never liked. This summer girl clings to sand between the toes, swooning over beach roses and a salty breeze caressing my skin.
I’ve come to realize, though, that the pain I feel is both physical and intellectual. As summer gives way to this season of change I am wrapped in the glow of the past: I think about all that I have loved and shared with people who are no longer here, or who have moved on, in a town that is only mine in memory.
I feel the joy of riding horses on crisp, sunny afternoons and can point to almost the exact second I first fell in love with football. I remember the sharp, smoky scent of my dad burning leaves on the sidewalk in front of our house, and lovely long walks with my mother.
I feel regret in the simplest things, like how I never played a round of golf with them, or spent time with the boy I liked. And then I think of my oldest sister, gone for nine years now, who left us all too soon. If things had just been different. But we can’t go back, right?
Soon I’ll be fine, and on into the fall, which I do truly love. Looking for colorful leaves, chilly nights, and time with people I love. The blessing is there are new memories.
Still, there is a place deep inside where the things from before live, and no matter how cherished today becomes, I think I will always feel it deeply at the end of summer that they are gone.