for witches, the year ends and begins at samhain. literally "summer's end" in ancient irish, samhain (So-En or Sow - Ane depending on your accent) is the turning point - the lynch-pin - of one year into the next. it is the most holy of holy days, the time when the veil between the Worlds lifts and separates, and EveryThing becomes Possible.
twenty-seven years ago this october, i stood on the edge of another threshold, peering into a place i had been raised to imagine from earliest childhood. when my oldest daughter was born on that golden october morning, with the orange sunlight pouring into the bedroom, i remember how when they placed her on my suddenly deflated belly, my first thought was:
this child's grandchildren will live to see a century i can never see. and in that one enormous moment, with my newborn baby squirming on my skin, i felt the link back to my great-grandparents, who were born in the 19th century, to my children's children, who would be born in the 21st, to all of those who would come after, and all of those who had come before.
it was one of those lynch-pin moments, because, having peered even for one brief moment into Eternity, one can never be quite the same. but even in that moment, something died. the old annie, pregnant annie, young and irresponsibe annie died in that moment, and a new annie, fledgling and raw as the scrap of flesh we were calling katie, stepped into Existence.
this october, katie herself stands on that very threshold. it is amazing to see her morph into a Mother, gratifying beyond belief to hear my own words fall so easily from her tongue. all the silly things we ever argued about have fallen away...suddenly she Understands. but something is also dying.
one morning when she was 13, katie came to me in tears because she'd had a particularly vivid dream in which i had died. what does it mean, mommy, she wailed, holding on to me as tightly as any infant. i remember i hesitated. help me say the right thing,i remember praying. and miraculously, i did.
well, i AM dying in a way, i said. our relationship is changing. you don't need me to take care of you the way you used to, and so that mommy IS dying. you're not two any more, you don't need me to change your diapers and put you to bed. you still need a mommy, maybe, but you don't need me in quite the same way and part of you is aware of that and is acknowledging that by showing you in your dream how the old mommy has to die in order for you to have the new mommy that you need. after all, i said, my little girl is changing too... you're NOT the little girl you used to be, either, are you?
we held each other and we wept that morning for the Little Girl Who Used to Be Katie and for the Mommy She Used to Need. and so, on this soft gray october morning, with the moist gray mist wrapping itself around me like a blanket, and the crows calling from behind the curtain of the trees, i will pause and remember and weep for All that Used to Be.