autumn, seasons, and grief

Autumn Leaves, 2022

In October 2006, we found this house. It was a beautiful, quiet setting on a dead-end street. We had been considering a different house, but we came to look at this house one more time. When we saw it with the leaves turning color and the autumn light and smells all around us, we knew it was our new home.

We put an offer on the house and it was accepted within a few days. Before we even had the final closing, Rick came over one late October Saturday afternoon, a day just like today, and he raked leaves. On a house we didn’t own yet. Just because he loved to.

The smells of autumn remind me of you
As I sit here on our deck on this beautiful October Saturday,
I hear the sound of you raking leaves in the shadows of my mind

I want to feel you come up behind me and wrap your strong arms around me
I want to feel your rough unshaven cheek against mine

I want you back

I thought I’d come to terms with it all
The great aloneness you left behind
Men have left me before
But not one who desperately wanted to stay
Not one who loved me with a passion
And with gentleness
With all his being

As I look at the fallen leaves piling around me
I know you are here
My very favorite ghost
Your spirit never left

And I feel sadness for you
Watching me, but unable to hold me and feel my love
Watching me, year after year, attempting to leave you behind
Watching me date other men
Laughing and kissing and dancing without you

But I must keep living and loving and laughing
Because this is the autumn of my life
And I have no other choice but to live out my seasons,

This time allotted to me,
Without you

About the author

Katherine Billings Palmer is a technical writer, poet, and essayist from Garden City, Michigan. She’s won several academic writing awards, including first place in the University of Michigan Dearborn Critical Essay Contest for her work about poet John Donne: “‘The Sun Rising’: A Lover’s Boast.”

In 2017, Katherine’s husband, Rick, died of complications from small cell lung cancer. She wrote a series of poems and essays about her struggles to cope with her grief. I Wanted to Grow Old With You is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

Her latest book, A Widow’s Words: Grief, Reflection, Prose, and Poetry – The First Year was published in January 2019 and is also available on

Katherine is a guest blogger for the Hope for Widows Foundation and writes about her grief journey at

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