Colors of the Heart

Have you ever sat back and thought of some of the wonderful things you have seen in your life? I do that sometimes. Being a person that loves to see and photograph scenery, I have been lucky enough to see many places and witness beauty in my country.

I've always loved the mountains. I wasn't raised in the mountains, but there is something about their majestic heights that are so beautiful to me. The Smokey Mountains offer views that can take your breath away. I love going there in the fall of the year when the colors are turning. But then autumn has always been my favorite time of year.

Growing up in a northern state where colors are abundant in fall, I miss that today. Though there are beautiful trees in the south, the colors are just not as vibrant as in the north. I planted a red maple this year and a Japanese maple to try and recapture something from my past.

Yesterday I looked at the woods near my house and my mind went back to another woods in a small town in Michigan. How I remember looking out my dining room window mornings as I was having a cup of coffee, taking in the beauty of the fall colors. How I used to love to walk in the woods, hearing the leaves crunch beneath my feet. I miss that.

But most of all, I miss someone who used to walk alongside me in those woods. A little hand in mine with love in my heart, showing a little guy the different kinds of trees, and telling him stories about when I was a little girl when I used to walk in the woods with my dad. I remember dad and my grandpa putting a target up one fall against a big maple tree, both teaching me how to shoot with a bow and arrow. I remember my brother and I climbing in the trees, hiding, seeing who could climb to the highest limb.

Fall always brings back so many memories for me. Ironically, it was that time of year my life changed also.

Having so much beauty around me, tragedy still found its way into my life. Fall claimed the life of the little boy I used to walk in the woods with.

I don't walk in the woods anymore and crunch the leaves beneath my feet. Sometimes my heart will beat a little faster when I look at the fall colors, remembering that day. Sometimes I still cry. Sometimes I want to scream out, "Why? Why did my child have to die?" But most of all, I often wonder how something so beautiful could claim my son's life. A beautiful tall tree blazing with the colors of fall.

I know it's hard for someone who has not lost a child to understand how things from our past from those of we who have lost a child, still hurt. I know it's hard to understand that though we still look alike, we are not the person we were before our child died. I was once there myself. I would hear of someone losing their child and think about what I would feel if it happened to me. Then I would shake the feeling off, thinking it would never happen to me. Then it did.

As I looked at the woods yesterday, all these memories came at me. In one moment, I would smile, remembering all those good times, yet in another, I felt the heart tugs of what fall took from me.

Yet, I've survived these twenty-eight years without my son. How, I don't know. It's been tough.

God has helped me in many ways. He's been there when I had no one else to talk to. He's dried up tears that I thought would never end. And He's given me a strong feeling of faith and hope when I once thought was impossible.

Fall is still my favorite time of year. But I will never forget the little hand that held mine and trusted me completely. I will never forget the smile in those beautiful eyes. Nor will I ever forget those words I used to hear daily....."Mom, I love you."

Sharon Bryant

IN memory of my son Andy Dunbar
January 22, 1972 - October 24, 1977

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