Winter is coming. Oh, it is still 100 degrees out. But the sun is tucking itself in earlier each day. And I hear the whispers of a cold wind blowing. Distant. Almost undetectable. But it is there, waiting, moving forward, toward me. Winter is coming. With cold arms and a frigid breath. With merciless determination. Icy. Unfeeling. “Soon,” it whispers, “Soon…you will be mine. I will hold you in my cold, harsh grip. I will freeze you with my touch. Very soon. Inevitable. I will take you to myself and clutch you to my bitter bosom. I will hold you there, in a frosty, brittle grasp…one from which you will not escape. I am your future. I am your end. I am patient. I am coming.” The grass may still be green, but time is short and it grows more slowly. Time, in fact, ticks away at an ever quickening pace. The warmth of the summer sun is fading, cooling, becoming weaker. Shadows lengthen. Night consumes the daylight, eating away, eating all the brightness away. A few leaves have already let go their grip on the branches where they have danced happily in summer breezes. They now shrivel on the lawn. Brown. Dry. They have begun to crumble, well on their way to becoming mulch that will nourish the earth and prepare the way for the next generation. Life to death. Leaving behind life. I am entering the winter of my life. It is not quite as distant as the physical winter, but it is still a little bit of a ways away. Its tendrils have begun to entwine me. Wrinkles etch my face. Skin has grown slack. Hair has dulled and thinned. Veins have become more prominent. I can still walk with a spring in my step. Move without pain or very much effort. But I know what is coming. I feel it. Hear it. See it. Winter is coming. Life to death. Leaving behind life. Someday, not so distant now, my bones and flesh will dry up and crumble, providing mulch, to nourish the earth from which I have come. I will not leave behind a new generation. I am the end of the line. Once the earth has absorbed me, all that I am, have, have been, have done and experienced, will come to a grinding halt. My only legacy will be these words that I have written, that I have cast into the universe, hoping someone will hear, listen, understand, care. They will be all that is left of me. And they will someday quietly fade into nothingness. Winter is coming. Darkness and cold and pain. Hard to get from here to there. Nothing is easy in the freezing clutch of this unforgiving season. It is all about death and dying. About trying to exist just a little bit longer without light, without hope of warmth or loving. Winter is about isolation. About the end; not the beginning. Hunkering down. The conclusion of all that has ever been and ever will be. The last period. The final scene of the final act of the play. The journey we must take alone as we step back through the curtain from which we came. A letting go. That final breath. The closing of the book. When it is finished. Done. Over. I expected a roaring fire to warm me in this dark and unrelenting season. Friends to share the warmth of the dancing flame. To have accomplished something worthy of passing on. To be able to reflect with satisfaction and without regret. But the fireplace is cold and no laughter echoes in my heart. No touch of a friend. I sigh. But not in contentment. Every thought is laced with sadness and despair because nothing has grown the way I anticipated. My summer was wasted. Buried in confusion beneath a scorching sun. I didn’t understand. I didn’t realize. I believed in tomorrow. But I didn’t comprehend that this time could never be redeemed. Never relived. I didn’t grasp that believing in tomorrow wasn’t sufficient. I didn’t know I had lost it until it was too late and I had let it all go like sand through my fingers. Until nothing was left but that voice calling, haunting me, whispering of ice and darkness, letting me know my time was almost gone. And I still sleep. I cannot wake myself from the heavy depression that has lulled and sedated me. I watch what little I have left go by; wasted. I know I have lost far too much already. But I am unable to shake off the weight of my despair and brokenness. I see, but I do nothing. Winter is calling my name. Soon, I will be forced to acknowledge…to answer that frosty call. I feel the end, the cold, the emptiness, coming…and still I will watch and do nothing. At the point when those icy fingers touch my cheek, there will be nothing that can be done. When those fingers close around me, pulling me into those unbearably cold arms, when the breath goes out of me that final time, expended into the frosty silence, my words will no longer flow, thoughts will halt, dreams that have long been lost will be buried, and I will exist no more. All that I am will be swallowed into bitter darkness. That is the moment, as I fall and am enveloped by the frigid, uncaring soil, that is the moment when my pain will take me down. I will have lost. It will be my final failure. And I will remain frozen forever in time as time moves past me, always onward, my scream silenced and stifled by nothingness. Until nothingness is all that remains. Life to death. Leaving behind life.