character story: looking back.

Person: An elderly woman sitting on a park bench and gazing at the small forest of trees in front of her.

She sat here on this bench often, watching the golden leaves of autumn flit toward the ground with each gust of wind. Each leaf represented a memory. She could see each one as it fell, and she felt a twinge of nostalgia in response.

It wasn’t one memory that stood out to her the most. She’d listened to her friends speak of one time in particular over and over again, some in regret and others with quiet appreciation. She, instead, saw all of the leaves of her golden life as the pieces that formed her life as a whole. Her life had been full, happy, peaceful, hard, joyful, challenging, rich, sad, painful and colorful. She saw her mistakes and looked on them softly and with a smile. The consequences had been due, but the positive that came from them was overwhelming.

She’d always learned by doing. A tiny chuckle escaped her lips like a musical sigh. She thought of a few simple mistakes, then a big one or two. The lessons she’d learned were invaluable, and she’d carried them with her throughout her life, even taught them to her children and her grandchildren.

Each time she sits on this bench in her favorite part of town, she appreciates the different view of life she has. Fumbling through life wasn’t an excuse for her. She’d preferred it and enjoyed every single minute. She’d loved not knowing what would come next and had never allowed herself to feel stuck in one place or phase. She hadn’t had a hard time with change like many people she’d known. It had always seemed to come at just the right time.

One leaf fell, then two leaves. The tree was growing bare. It was late in the season, and she felt it was a metaphor. She’d make a few more memories, and then, like the leaves, she’d flutter away. It didn’t make her nervous, afraid or even sad anymore. She felt she’d been blessed twice as much as she should have been.

Ahead, all she felt was peace.

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