The dark silhouette of leaf less branches outside my windows could be beautiful... if they were seen against a bright blue sky. But this is Ohio, and the sky is grey, and the wind is strong. If a last leaf might still have been clinging to the limb, it is far, far away now.
I have been thinking about last leaves for a long time. My friend, Lucile Kirk, once told me, over lunch, that she didn't want to be the last leaf on the tree. That was a few years ago, and now she has left us and, as in winter's past, so have Lois and Harry and Bob and Artie and Leonard and Evelyn. If you are ninety as I am, you can substitute your own list of missing friends.
We were once part of a group of seven couples, who met regularly on Saturday night. Now there are two of us, Artie's widow, Jackie, and I.
Not so long ago, I was a class mate of five or six local members of the CSG class of 1937, who met regularly for lunch. Now, there is Caroline Davis and I. We talk on the phone, and we share many intimacies because we have the trust that comes with an eighty year friendship.
At Wellesley, we were a compatible group of young women, who ate at the same table together for three years. (Yes, we had round tables, and table cloths and waitresses!) Now, Alice and I reach out to each other from Boston to Columbus, and she will say, when we have the "last leaf" conversation, "You remember my friend Muriel, from kindergarten" and I do, even though we have never met. I just know she is still on Alice's branch.
It was just a year ago that I saw my wonderful brother, Al, for the last time. That is hard to bear.
It happens, this time and change. I write this, today, not because I am mourning those who are gone, because, of course, I am. But I am celebrating those who remain, and the newer, younger people who have become dear to me.
And sometime, sometime, spring will come.