I love the smell of the air this morning. It’s a little chilly. It smells like leaves and sticks, and I know that summer is wrapping up. The allure of everything pumpkin and spice is just around the bend. I can break out my fall clothes and put away my summer dresses until the warmth and sunshine return.

It is a time that rattles my emotions a bit. I love this time of year, yet the chill in the air brings a flood of memories sad and sweet. How is it that the time of year can stir all that lay dormant? Simply by a smell or a breeze, we are captured and taken back to a time, an event. Happy or sad, excited or nervous, whatever the emotion, fall triggers all of those things in me.

It was the time we packed up the car and I moved up to Boston. A time of excitement as I began my time at Northeastern with a touch of fear of leaving all that was comfortable. I love Boston in the fall; I can close my eyes and feel all of those delightful emotions just by the smell and sound in the air. The sight of bustling freshmen walking around in clusters. It’s wonderful.

It is also a sad time as my father died in November. It is coming up on the 17th year that he is no longer with us. The smell in the air this morning also brings back memories of his illness and his pending death. My tears flow easily in September. I think of my final days with him and encouraging him to get outside with me to smell the fresh beautiful air of fall in the hopes of revitalizing his dwindling spirit and body.

I tried so hard to make him smile and laugh. And I did. I sat with him daily for hours, at times in silence, for being with him was what we both needed. It was the beginning of what would be my final days with my father. The smell in the air stirs my grief every September, and I miss him and feel the same sadness as if he died yesterday.

I think about how Christopher should be leaving soon for his junior year at college. That used to bring about excitement, and a touch of sadness as I so love his company. He is a delight to have around the house, and we share the same sense of humor. We laugh a lot and we enjoy similar things, making his company even more enjoyable.

This year I don’t have to say goodbye just yet, but there is a sadness I feel for his loss as well. Giavanna is ready to start thinking about applications for college, a new school. Again, excitement is in the air, and I am thrilled for her, elation fills my heart when I think of her approaching an exciting new journey. I pray that next fall — as sad as the thought is for me — both of my children can head off to college. How can I feel so many emotions all in one morning? I can, we all can, and we do. That is the beauty of life.

If we feel for those we love, we will always have them in our hearts, and we will experience their emotions. If they are gone, we will miss them and yearn for them. I would like to say that the sadness goes away, but it definitely does not for me. I had a dream of my father last night and I awoke with tears in my eyes.

I long to sit across the kitchen table with him. I want to share with him the excitement and nervous anticipation and laughter that we are all experiencing these days. I know he is always with me, I am certain of that, and yet I still yearn for him in the flesh. I want to smell his cologne and watch him drown peaches in a big goblet of red wine. I want to see him enjoying life with the vigor and hunger that he instilled in each of us. I want him to see that everything he was I see now in Christopher and Giavanna. What a wonderful gift he gave to each of us. He taught us how to enjoy life and to always be kind. He was generous and loving and for all those reasons we love him. We long for him.

We can try to quell and harness feelings and emotions, but the reality is we must embrace them. All of them, they simply represent the depth of who we are and what we love. There is great beauty in that.

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