First they took my father. I remember the day well. I was still very small, enjoying the cool autumn air. The leaves had long since turned from green to blaze orange and blood red. Most were now brown, crisp and dry. I loved to hear them crunch under my feet when I ran and played. We had not yet had our first snowfall of the season, but with the passing of each day we knew there would soon be ice on the water and snow in the fields.
The sky was just growing dark, and I heard a wild commotion in the distance. I thought I heard my mother cry out. At that moment I should have sped right home, sprinting as fast as my two legs could carry me. But I was young, innocent and selfish. I was more interested in playing outside and enjoying myself than investigating what was surely a bad situation.
When I finally returned home later that night, mother was alone. She didn’t speak about what happened to father, even when I pressed her about it. From that day forward she was much more quiet, much more withdrawn than she had been before.
Just two years later my mother disappeared. I was a bit older and wiser in the ways of the world, but nothing could have prepared me for that day. I searched for her everywhere. I contacted her closest friends. Millie, from the small farm on Acorn Street told me she was fine and that I "shouldn't worry my little head about it." Nannie, whose house abutted the old dry riverbed tried to reassure me. “She can take care of herself,” she promised and I believed her, at least for a time. Now, outfitted with the wisdom of age, I suspect that mother's friends knew what happened all along. They simply decided it was easier to lie than it was to tell the truth; to tell someone so young that he had lost the last of his family.
Autumn is a beautiful season, but every year my heart grows heavy with the turning of the leaves. The fall reminds me of the family that has left me behind, alone and cold, in this big uncertain world. Once again I begin to ponder my mortality, as I do frequently when the weather turns sharp and the winds grow intense.