When I was a child in the spring of my life, seasons held no meaning beyond the climate associated with each of them. Days became warmer as we moved toward summer. Leaves unfurled, beautifully adorning once barren trees. Flowers blossomed, proudly showing off their magnificent colors. The sky was blue more often than it was gray. Once brown grass slowly turned a lush green. Gentle breezes and sweet air caressed my skin deliciously. And the sun reigned, banishing the consuming darkness of winter to a shorter, more bearable time span, allowing just enough time for refreshing sleep.
Even during the summer years of my life, I didn’t see the seasons as painting my story, echoing the doomed trajectory of my life. I didn’t see the parallel. I had an abundance of time stretching out before me. There was no need to worry if a year seemed to slip away unobserved or barely experienced. Or that all I managed to accomplish was to survive. I basked in the sunshine, in my youth, in the possibilities of tomorrow.
It was as I approached and moved into the fall of life that I began to sit up and take notice. It was at this point I began to panic.
It dawned on me suddenly that my time was now limited and supply was dwindling. I was utterly stunned to realize there were far more years behind me than probably remained ahead. My skin began to sag, no longer firm and smooth. Wrinkles appeared beneath my eyes, around my mouth, as if time was using my face as a canvas with the intention to mar and mock. I woke tired after a night of sleep. The days turned colder, unwelcoming and short. All the things I believed I would accomplish by this point in life were yet undone. Not achieved. The damage from years of childhood abuse crippled me and I was left struggling to overcome the destruction in hopes of someday thriving. I had to work harder to get to the line where others started their journey and I was never able to catch up. Fall was not friendly. But it whispered of even worse days to come.
In the summertime, everything is alive, growing. Fruit hangs from the vine and weighs down the branches of lush trees. Flowers dance in the warmth. Trees and shrubs and plants put out new shoots and increase in stature.
I experienced summer as a season, but I never lived during the summer of my life. I never emerged from the darkness. I never reached a point where I was fully alive, much less flourishing.
I blinked and summer was gone. Just. Like. That.
Now, each year I survive comes with the understanding it could be my last. Though I am not bent and ancient, if I continue to breathe, I am not as far removed from that coming stage of life as I am from my youth. The end is clearly in sight. And it’s terrifying.
I have walked. Oh, my, how I have walked. Many steps. Many years, putting one tired foot before another. I have left footprints in the dust where I longed to leave them in stone. In cement. I wanted to leave something lasting behind me. But the wind has swept away the dust as quickly as I have passed through, leaving no trace of my coming and going. Even the air that once caressed my youthful skin does not recognize or remember me.
I have walked. But I have gone nowhere. Looking back over the years and seasons, though I know the path taken, I cannot see any sign of my ever having existed.
Someday, winter will arrive, harsh and uncaring. My home will be left empty. The contents will be given or thrown away. Every word I have written will be discarded, for no one will care to hear what I had to say. Winter will strip me of the few leaves I managed to produce and will bury me under mounds of icy snow. I will be wiped from the face of the earth.
Winter is coming, hard and fast and frigid. All that I am and all that I have hoped to become will vanish without a trace beneath the cold hands of time. The harsh touch of the darkness will erase me completely. Nothing I leave behind will make a difference to anyone who comes after.
I can feel the chill. I was plunged into eternal darkness by my parents as they abused me and I never escaped the impact, nor got to enjoy the light of long summer days. I was too numb. Working too hard to persevere.
A time is coming when I will not see another season unfold. When spring will blow in like a lion, but I will no longer breathe the fresh air…or any air at all. The summer sun will not warm me or my dry, brittle bones. Fall will have nothing else to take from me, for I will not be required to die yet again. Only winter will want me. The icy winter will hold me in frosty arms. My eyes will not see, my heart will no longer cry in pain or be torn by unbearable regret. I will be frozen in that final moment. And in that moment, I will begin to return to dust. Dust that someone else will walk through as they leave their footprints trailing behind them. Hoping, as I once did, to leave their mark.