Archived Opinion

Finding my way in this season of change

Finding my way in this season of change

Not long ago my front porch was a barren, pathetic place with a few pieces of hard, wooden furniture, zero greenery and an all-around lack of comfort. Throughout the summer, I’ve worked to make it much more, and since the passing of my mom almost a month ago, it’s become a peaceful sanctuary for me.

The porch now has a wicker couch with cushions given to me by my mom last Christmas. Three wind chimes, one wooden and two metal, play their songs with the wind. Plants hang and sit all around. The pure joy the porch offers me embodies the sentiment of “living simply.” These days I can’t think of anywhere that would feel more relaxing. 

A cruise around the Caribbean? Nope. A gondola ride in Venice? Nah. A seaside spa in Greece? No, thank you. 

A simple porch in the mountains of North Carolina? Yes, please. 

Perhaps one day I’ll go back to dreaming of faraway places and exotic adventures but right now, I just want to be still and quiet. 

Over the summer, I had to grab my porch time before 10 a.m. or it was too stifling to sit outside, but now the cool, early fall air offers porch respite all throughout the day. Lately, as I sit out there after dropping the boys off at school, I’ve been thinking about the changing of seasons.

Fall is typically my favorite time of year. I love the weather, colorful fall foliage, delicious Honeycrisp apples from Barber Orchard Fruitstand. I’ve always anticipated the month of October with a childlike excitement. My birthday, my sister’s birthday, and my dad’s birthday all fall within the month, as does Halloween, which I adore. 

This year’s different, though. Fall was also my mom’s favorite season, so I’m not feeling super excited about the emotions that will come during the next several months. My mom loved holidays. She had sweaters, shirts, vests, socks, jewelry and home decor galore to correspond with all the festivities that happen during October, November and December. 

My sister, dad, and I never got quite as excited as she did about the flash and hoopla of it all, but we did it for her. We enjoyed seeing the shine it brought to her eyes and the energy boost it offered her spirit. 

Several people have warned us that holidays are very hard to handle after a loved one passes away. The first year of holidays without the person can be brutal, they’ve said. I believe it, too. My little boys, ages 7 and 4, are propelling me forth with chatter about Halloween costumes, trips to apple orchards, and verbal discussions about letters to Santa. I am so grateful for them, because otherwise, I don’t think I could do it.  

I talked on the phone to my dad for a long time the other night about the holidays. My mom was the nucleus of everything holiday-oriented. To lessen the heaviness in our hearts and avoid some triggers, we’re hoping to do something completely different this year like travel to D.C. to visit my sister or go to Mexico on Christmas day. My parents loved to travel, and my mom had mentioned wanting to go to Puerto Vallarta, so in lieu of spending tons of money on gifts and sitting in our houses without her, we hope to plan a three- or four-day trip with the family. 

So in synchrony with the weather, I am also experiencing a season of change. Several seasons of change, in fact. 

Along with grieving and trying to conceive a new normal in a world without my mom, I’ve cut ties with freelance clients who weren’t fueling me creatively or emotionally. I’ve also got several projects in the works that get me out of my own space, projects that are bigger than my little world and will hopefully better humanity. I will tell you more about those later once things get rolling. 

There’s a quote that says, “Sometimes in the winds of change, we find our direction.” Through the hailstorm that feels like my life right now, perhaps I will find the path I’ve been searching for all along.

(Susanna Barbee lives in Haywood County. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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