Rethinking September

by Patricia Sullivan


The sun warms our shoulders as we swing into an easy stroll that will take us a mile down the beach and back again. Last night we walked here and watched a blood red moon rise from the ocean, even as the sun refused to let go of the day, filling the sky with reflected pinks, blues and purples. I want to put yesterday and today on hold, put them in a treasure box to take out next February in the middle of a wild blizzard. It is the wish of a child.

A cluster of sooty sandlings skitter at water’s edge, heads down, long narrow beaks exploring for food. They move in unison, sweeping forward then back like a well trained ballet class. I want to tell them to pause a minute, to slow down, look around and see their own beauty. But those who give such beauty to the world seldom see it in themselves and I must be content to look, to appreciate, to store the memory.

For a long time September has been the least welcome month of the year. Parents die in September and good friends move away. In the dying and the going, those of us left behind have choices to make, difficult as they may be. When the sadness comes, I try to focus on the immediacy of the day, on the very present now time. I go through motions of normalcy, pretending a cheerfulness I do not really feel. Usually by day’s end the facade becomes reality. I have become firmly rooted in the business of today, escaping at least for now the sadness of what has been,the fear of what is to come.

An old piece of wisdom surfaces. “We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” I knew that once and now I can know it again. Perhaps there are no new truths, just old truths revisited.

September sadness may stop by for a while, but will not be invited in for a lengthy stay.