Falling Leaves

Letting Go #17

Lately, I’ve been watching the leaves let go of their trees, making the ultimate sacrifice. They allow that final separation, release from the source, the severing of the umbilical cord, to swirl gently toward the ground and join the multi-colored crowd. This letting go must happen. In October of 1996 while living in Kansas City, I saw firsthand what happens to trees when winter comes too soon, and the weight of the snow-laden foliage splits trunks in half, and strips away branches that have taken a lifetime to grow. I drove along streets lined with twisted limbs and stumps for weeks, pushed into piles waiting for the clean-up crews to haul away and make giant mountains outside the city.

This October during my “nine” year practice of letting go, another member has left our family. A cat who has lived with us for thirteen years finished her journey last week. I made the decision (with help from my vet) to release her from the agonies of liver disease, even as she was desperately trying to live and share her life with us. I was touched by how she stubbornly refused to leave us, even though her lot had been a hard one. She had never adjusted to the other dogs and cats who joined the family and she became the scapegoat for everyone’s pent-up frustrations. I have to admit, she made a spectacular victim, screaming and hissing whenever another pet even glanced in her direction. But she always won me back with a little hug around the neck, and a purr that would give a chainsaw run for its money.

Even as I grieve for the two furry companions I have lost this year, miss the daughter who is off at college, and endure the stings of loss while purging the outgrown toys of my old hobbies and habits, I am envious of the relief that must be felt during release–and anticipate the slow swirling journey after the letting go.