Do you know what time of year it is? Here, it’s The Week When The Leaves All Fall Off The Chestnut Tree At Once. If you’ve been to our house, you know how enormous the tree is. It has a lot of leaves. And they’re currently all scattered beautifully on our lawn.

Okay, in a way it is beautiful, and I like the idea of just letting them be. Who decided it’s better to have carefully maintained green grass than to let nature go how it goes? I know, I know, social norms dictate that I take care of the landscaping and keep the yard tidy. So I realize that right now, it just looks messy – not carefree and autumn-y.

But aside from the hours of raking involved in getting the lawn cleared, here’s the real reason I’m leaving the leaves: it brings back painful memories.

Last year, the leaves dutifully fell down in the first week of November. Then it snowed, pretty immediately after. I couldn’t really rake when the yard was covered in a few inches of snow. And we left for our Thanksgiving family reunion in Southern California before the snow melted. Once we got back, of course, the snow was gone and our yard looked painfully embarrassingly unkempt. All those leaves!

But by the following week we had sunny weather again, so I got out the rake, bundled up the kids, and spent about 3 hours clearing the leaves.

The problem: it was just a few days after I’d found out I was pregnant. I was more tired than usual, so the fact that I buckled down and raked for hours was noteworthy.

When I think about that afternoon, it feels heartbreakingly naive and innocent. I was excited for a new baby. I was impressed with myself for doing yard work. I had no idea what anguish the coming months would hold.

I thought by this fall, I’d have a baby at home. I’d talk Jarom into raking the leaves because I’d be inside, bouncing a little one or pulling my hair out because the baby just wouldn’t go to sleep.

It seems like I did well in the time between my due date (early August) and the six-month mark of Christian’s death (late October). These days, though, I can’t help but think of what things were like this time last year – so full of hope and excitement. I miss that. I’m sad it ended so tragically. And I don’t want to rake my leaves.


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