This is Wrong and I am Exhausted
What It's Like to be Dying

A TGB READER STORY: My Season of “Not Quite”

By Carole Leskin

There is something about late August that makes me uneasy. A kind of sadness mixed with a desire to just get it over with and move on to September.

When I was a little girl, I loved the summer. August meant wearing as few clothes as possible, riding my bike all day, swimming, fishing and crabbing with my father, boating on the bay, playing hide and seek at nightfall, the magic show of fireflies in the darkness and just being free!

Today, I stepped out on to my balcony and was almost overcome by the humidity and a sense of lethargy. The garden is beginning to close for the season. Many of the flowers and plants are limp and struggling to live just a bit longer. There are already rust and brown leaves on the ground, looking out of place in what is still predominantly green, but a reminder of things to come.

The birds have raised their young, the nests empty, the fighting for places at the feeders over. The sun casts its shadows earlier and displays a different color on the water - a yellowish green, an artist finding a way to convey the mixture of life and death.

I remember my childhood August and wonder. Is it me? Have I lost something somewhere along the way of growing old? Why do I struggle to just go with the flow - lazy, unhurried and content? Why do I want this month to end and September to begin?

I yearn for the clarity and crispness of autumn - warm sweaters and cozy blankets, mugs of hot chocolate, the colors of turning leaves, the harvest crops, scarecrows and a fire in the fireplace.

Perhaps this is what being 74 is about. Learning to live in the season of "not quite". Letting go of what was, beautiful as it might have been, and finding a way to embrace what is - undefined, different, yellowish green - with an end in sight. But not yet.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


Your story is lovely and bittersweet, Carole. (Looks like everyone is exhausted from yesterday.)

Carole, your brief and touching memoir brought many thoughts to mind for me. Thank you.

Even though I am older than you and experienced quite a different childhood I can relate to your feelings about the Fall. It has always been my favorite time of year. This is one melody I listen to often that gives comfort to me at this time of life. For me, music is fine (and inexpensive) medicine for many ailments of age and loneliness.

You can find it easily on line. If you are unfamiliar with the gorgeous baritone of Ed Ames you might enjoy his version of "Try to Remember"...a song from a long ago Broadway musical, "The Fantasticks". See what you can't hurt. :-)

In my late 60s, I am still enamored by summer. It's always been my favorite season and I hang onto as long as possible. Autumn makes me sad, even though it is quite lovely with the changing colors, because I know winter is coming and that is one season I have always dreaded, even as a young child.

The seasons provide such a perfect metaphor for stages of life, whether looking back or ahead, with all their beautiful, but often poignant, changes. You've used them very nicely here.

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