Taking Back October

An open letter to the month that's tried its best to take me down.

Taking Back October
Photo by Alexandre Croussette / Unsplash

Dear October,

We need to have a chat. See, I used to love you. I really did, with your cool, crisp air and colorful, crunchy leaves. With your warm apple cider and big, friendly pumpkins. With the way you tore me out of the hot, humid summer and prepared me for the cold, grey winter ahead. I used to love you, but the problem is, we’ve been a little out of touch these past few years.

For the past three years, you’ve presented me with major life challenges. Challenges that I was not yet ready to face. I know, I know. When are we ever truly prepared for life’s challenges? But, You, October, liked to throw them at me in your month and your month alone.

You were there in 2010 when I attempted to have the lump in my breast removed. You were there when the surgeon told me he got it all out and that the biopsy was benign. You were there when we celebrated. You were there when the doctor told me he had made a mistake and didn’t actually get it at all. You were there when I cried.

You were there in 2011 when my father was attached to tubes in the ICU. You were there when the doctors told us that he had lung disease. You were there when they told us to be cautiously hopeful about his recovery. You were there when he died.

You were there in 2012 when my family returned to the cemetery to reflect on our loss at the unveiling ceremony. You were there when, in my father’s eulogy, my brother expressed,

“One of the hardest things I’ve had to do over the past year was to face the reality that my father was really gone.”

You were there as I carried the weight of those words with me as well.

And now, in 2013, you’re here again, October. You’re here, but we’re doing things a little differently this time around. We’re doing things differently because I refuse to let you represent sadness and loss anymore. I refuse to continue to dread your arrival. I refuse to ignore you like you’re not a real month. I want to love you again. I’m taking you back.

I’m taking you back because life is really too short to hate a month. Life is too short to spend 31 whole days wishing that time would speed up a little. To spend 31 whole days not fully living because you’re too distracted by the memories of the bad things that happened during that 31-day timeframe in years past.

I’m taking you back because I can’t control the past, but I can control how I think about it. I can look back on those periods of my life and feel strong because I survived. I can look back and feel the love and support that carried me through.

October, I entered you this year with a little less grief and a lot more hope. With an internal promise to overlook your flaws and absolve you of blame. With the realization that without you, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

So, October, although we haven’t been the best of friends, I’m ready now to let you back in. I’m ready to take in your cool, crisp air and crunchy, colorful leaves. To think of you fondly when I sip warm apple cider or see a big, friendly pumpkin on a neighbor’s front porch. To say goodbye to summer and welcome you warmly as we transition into the cold, grey winter ahead.

I’m ready to take you back, October. Thank you for all that you were, all that you are, and all that you will be.

Update: Big things, good and bad, have continued to happen to me in October.
• Jeff proposed on October 11, 2015
We got married on October 9, 2016
• We lost our family cat, Aslan, on October 18, 2019

As always, thank you for reading!