We took a long bike ride up the gorgeous C&O Canal trail this morning, from the Chain Bridge to Great Falls, about 20 miles roundtrip. Ed and our friend Shawn kept a pretty good lead on my sadly too-long-sedentary self, leaving me a lot of time to myself to think. As we near the end of August, the sun is already starting to cast its light in that way that reminds me of the photographs taken during my young childhood in the late seventies, the kind with just a hint of sepia haze over them. The changing light always makes fall such a nostalgic time for me anyway, but I imagine never moreso than it will this fall.
When we got to Great Falls today, we wandered down the boardwalks, looking out over the grand rushing Potomac. Moms and dads ambled around with babies in backpacks, strollers, carriers. I wanted so much to be one of them, to have my girl up in her backpack, chattering away to us about the birds, the dogs, the other babies. I said to Ed, “I miss her,” a thought I have so many times each day that it might as well just be one continuous thought. He said, “I know. She would have had so much fun here.” And she would have. It’s so very hard to contemplate all the things she would have enjoyed. All the things we would have enjoyed with her.
On our way back from our bike ride, we stopped by the Subway on our street for some lunch. We drove by a grassy spot nearby what used to be the Sunday farmers’ market in our neighborhood. Last summer, we spent many a Sunday afternoon grabbing a sandwich at Subway, having lunch in that grassy spot, with Hudson learning to crawl around, and then checking out what was on offer at the market that day. We parked the car and walked up the hill and I said, “I sure do miss her.” And he said, “Yeah.” I squeezed his hand. Neither of us ever need say more. We do this so many times each day that it would seem almost meaningless if each of us did not know the deep yearning behind those few little words.
Every moment of every day is filled with longing—all that changes is the quality of the longing. Sometimes the longing is intense and piercing, an agonizing reminder of all we have lost—this kind can quickly bring me to tears, and then sobs. Sometimes it is more like a subdued ache, coupled with sweet memories of how good we had it—this kind makes me pensive and wistful.
As the fall sun that I used to love so much begins to cast longer and longer shadows on the ground, as the light grows hazier, as the air grows chill and the leaves begin to crunch beneath our feet, I am hopeful that the longing, too, becomes less piercing and more subdued, less painful and more pensive. Fall has always worked a little magic on me. I hope it will this year, too.