October. Days become shorter, there is too much darkness in the morning and I am depressed until noon. I love the fall colors, but the weather is capricious and unnerving in California. Foggy at dawn and ninety degrees by three p.m. For two or three days it blisteringly hot, then suddenly chill and rainy. It is a month of earthquakes and fires. Loma Prieta, Oakland Hills. They reverberate in my memory, and I always expect disaster in this month.
Halloween is not my favorite holiday. It should last a day, at most a week. But it pervades the whole thirty-one days. I turn off the TV and don’t go anywhere, sensitive as I am to the images of ghosts and gore. I am not one who likes to look at suggestions of pain and death. My students are wild, wound up by the same images, and the promise of costumes and candy and parades. My job is hard.
Mom died in October. It was 1981. I was 17. While acceptance and a certain intellectual ability to discuss it have replaced denial, I still grieve. Every year I feel the sadness, the loss, the missing. Some years I am too busy to pay attention to it. This year I thought I had reached a point of calm and reasonable reflection. But no. It has hit me hard, the sadness creeping in and taking over before I had time to realize what was happening. I cry easily, I am especially sensitive. I just want to sleep without dreaming and wake up in spring.
At moments the weight of this month is crushing. I can’t wait for November.