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As days darken sooner and mornings lighten later, I mark September’s close with acute awareness.

Forty years ago this month, my perfect newborn Benjamin arrived to instantly mark a change of life’s seasons. Two weeks later he took his place in the Pack ‘n’ Play in the three-room office of my solo start up law practice where a university student was my part-time secretary and occasional babysitter.

In the 20 years of life that followed I had my second child, divorced, lost a brother, and remarried. The little firm steadily grew.

In 2001, 9/11 changed life for us all. For me, the ninth month of the year introduced my impending personal evolution when I read a description of an unfamiliar profession called “life coaching.”  That single September moment would change my career and eventually transform my life.

Of all my autumns, the one that brought the greatest shift from sunny days to long dark nights came a decade later. My husband John died gently after years of knowing his days were numbered by a terminal diagnosis. That year, September’s specialness took on an entirely new meaning as my enthusiasm for the season withered like the falling leaves and crumpled into a mound of monumental mourning.

Through the highs and lows life, the autumnal equinox also equated to an annual weekend gathering of women friends. Gretchen prepares pots of chili and builds a blazing fire under the stars. As the sun rises, we sip coffee in jammies under blankets on the porch watching birds fly southward over the lake because they know it’s time. We laugh relentlessly at silly stories, and we listen with large doses of silence to quiet words about the one who died or moved away or just doesn’t love us the way we wish they did.

This September I sat with the knowing that 40 Septembers have gone by as quickly as the red maple turns red after a good frost. I marked John’s death along with the one-year anniversary of the passing of our vivacious younger friend.  My three-room firm is now in three buildings with an award for integrity arriving last week. We cheered the tenth lawyer on our team taking a solemn oath in the rotunda of the state capitol where I stood on a September day doing the same 43 years ago.

This season has no escape from sadness and simultaneously is filled with joys and gratitude I could never have imagined. As I mark the close of this month, I’m reminded of the ever- changing and never-changing nature of life.  I’m reminded that Benjamin’s life was given to me a second time when a full speed car crash didn’t kill him. I’m reminded that life never stops giving me chances to love and be loved.

My hope is to be present to the beauty of the colors of each floating leaf, remembering how quickly they fall.

Coach Koenig

Does the change of seasons cause you to reflect?

How do you hold both celebration and sadness?

What do you appreciate about this time of year? About your life?