My Sacrifice Upon Autumn’s Altar

If I could choose one season in which to live eternally, it would undoubtedly be fall: when the leaves start to change, the air smells of mist and cloves and my favorite apple orchard, Curran’s, begins selling its much coveted apple cider doughnuts.

To me, there’s nothing more beautiful than fall: its sights, its smells, and the emotion its return evokes. I was reminded of the latter this past Tuesday at my monthly pregnancy loss support group. In truth, I’ve only attended 3 times, but sitting among women who bear the same scars, helps me embrace my truth: I am childless but not less because I am without child.

Our meeting, usually led by one mediator, was led by two that day. The addition, let’s call her Hope, again reflected my true self back to me: that of a survivor who is inking her edges with truth, much like the autumn leaves ink theirs with vibrant color.

Hope began talking about the changing seasons and how it is a standing metaphor for the seasons of our lives. Of course, I had heard that before, but it sounded different, sweeter maybe, coming from her. I noticed her hands lay upon two piles of construction paper leaves, one dark and one light, and imagined her sitting in the quiet of her kitchen tracing their lines, then delicately cutting along their penciled edges. Perhaps she was drinking cider at the time, wrapped in a fluffy sweater, as she thought about how she’d been where we now are. How, like me, she’d suffered 3 losses; and how, unlike me, she is now mother to four living children.

She looked at her small, untidy piles and told us that the first leaf represented something we’d like the winds of fall to blow away, or, put in my heart vernacular, something we’d like to sacrifice on autumn’s altar. As she passed out the leaves, I thought about those winds and that altar and only one word came to mind:



I have been dealing with an abundance of frustration lately, most of it directed toward myself, but some of it reserved for R and the place we find ourselves in. And sadly, I’ve allowed that emotion to steal my joy, robbing me of a purpose that is greater than me or any loss I have suffered: that of a bloomingspider, who spins webs of truth to net hearts.

So, I laid that emotion on the altar, placed a hand over my heart and slowly backed away.

It remains there. And I remain here.

For now.

The second leaf was a gift to give ourselves. What flooded my heart was this:

The courage to move on

the courage to move on

The courage I write about is two-fold: the courage to walk toward another try with fullness of heart and spirit, as well as the courage to accept a childless life, if that is where this path leads. Neither will be easy, I know. But I’d like to think that I can look both in the eye and be better on the other side of whichever awaits.

The winds of fall blow in and out. If we allow, they can rid us of untruths, traumas and the plague of closed fists, filling us instead with gifts wrapped in the jewel-toned paper of grace and the billowing ribbon of acceptance.

Image courtesy of AnnMarie Bone via

Image courtesy of Ann Marie Bone via

As always, it is a choice.
And one I hope we’ll both make.

Until I spin my next web,

  One thought on “My Sacrifice Upon Autumn’s Altar

  1. September 14, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Oh! Thank you Dani…very timely for me today as well.
    Blow oh winds, North winds of cleansing, South winds of blessing.

    Open hands differ from empty hands…


    • September 15, 2014 at 6:06 pm

      …and that word…sacrifice…thank you for that. Not shying away.

      love always,

      • September 24, 2014 at 9:13 pm

        Nope, not at all.
        Full on. And full of truth.

    • September 24, 2014 at 9:12 pm

      Yes, they certainly do. Thank you for the heart-full reminder.

  2. September 14, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    I like that its autumn but I don’t like that summer is over!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ❤

    • September 24, 2014 at 9:15 pm

      I’m not happy that summer is over, but I’m certainly happy that fall is finally here ❤

  3. September 14, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Dani, your fears are real, but your courage and you spirit are stronger! “Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart,” and continue to inspire those of us who in various ways walk behind you and continue to glean the wisdom you leave on your path!


    • September 24, 2014 at 9:16 pm

      What a beautiful comment, Stephen.
      Thank you.

      With blessings,

  4. September 14, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    Dani, I spent some time commenting on your latest blog post, but I don’t see my comment. Did you receive it?


    • September 24, 2014 at 9:17 pm

      I’m a bit behind on responses, Stephen. But I just did to yours.
      Thank you.

      🙂 Dani

  5. September 15, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Wonderful post. I feel as though you were speaking for me at the same time as yourself. I particularly appreciate this comment:
    “The courage I write about is two-fold: the courage to walk toward another try with fullness of heart and spirit, as well as the courage to accept a childless life, if that is where this path leads. Neither will be easy, I know. But I’d like to think that I can look both in the eye and be better on the other side of whichever awaits.”

    • September 24, 2014 at 9:21 pm

      Thank you, sweetie. Navigating these waters is scary, as I don’t quite know what to do or how to feel. But then…there is a calm…a peace that I feel.

      Somehow, whatever happens, I know I’ll be okay.
      And my prayer is this:
      that you feel the same.

      ❤ Dani

  6. September 15, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Beautifully written. Your struggle with loss and acceptance transcends any specific circumstances and speaks to all of us. Yours is also a universal struggle. Although we may not have experienced your loss of pregnancies and as yet unfulfilled hope for children, which is without doubt deep and profound, we have experienced other losses and have struggled toward acceptance. Thank you for writing so well.

    • September 24, 2014 at 9:25 pm

      Yes, we have all lost. That theme is universal and a theme I write to often…in the spirit of emotional comprehensiveness.

      Thank you for taking the time to read, Kitt. And to share a bit of your heart here.

      I am truly thankful,

  7. September 15, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Hi Dani,
    I’m just going to steal what Kitt says right above in the comments–it’s so spot-on and true. Your words, journey, courage and vulnerability are like a lighthouse beacon for anyone who struggles. And who doesn’t struggle?
    And, I’m right with you on the seasons. Autumn is my favorite–hands down. That said, I know each season serves a purpose and I try to accept the snowfalls and polar vortex with the same gratitude that I accept fall leaves, mums and pumpkin-spiced everything.
    Are you working on a book? You probably get asked that a lot, but I can see myself reading your words right before bed and drifting off to sleep with a happy heart. I love reaping the benefits of your web weaving! xo

    • September 24, 2014 at 9:41 pm

      Michelle, what a beautiful comment. And this:

      ” I know each season serves a purpose and I try to accept the snowfalls and polar vortex with the same gratitude that I accept fall leaves, mums and pumpkin-spiced everything.”

      I just love it.

      I must say I’m t.h.r.i.l.l.e.d. that autumn is your favorite. I knew our heart strings sing familiar as the bow of fall passes lightly over.

      And a book…

      No, I’m not currently working on anything book-like, although I would like to someday. Honestly, I may be pushing 80 once I finally summon the courage.

      Until then, blogging tells the story of my heart. And I do hope it’s a story that will continue to resonate with readers for many years to come.

      With heart,

      P.S. If I do ever write something book-like, consider yourself volunteered to be a close reader/editor/heart-note-taker/thick-skin-giver and friend. Always a friend ❤

      • September 24, 2014 at 9:59 pm

        Love the thought of having my heart strings tangled with yours!
        I just dropped 80 bucks on mums today…I can’t start Fall without them!
        And, yes, consider me your forever partner-in-crime, volunteer reader/editor and forever friend.

  8. Jenae G
    September 16, 2014 at 10:02 am

    💕 My heart hurts alongside yours because I don’t want you to ever feel alone. I love you my sweet friend.

    • September 24, 2014 at 9:43 pm

      Sometimes we have to allow ourselves to feel truly alone to receive the Gift of knowing that we aren’t.

      Thank you for reminding me you’re here.
      And know…
      You are loved ❤

  9. September 22, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    Thank you for sharing so courageously, Dani. Though I’ve never lost a child, in some way my heart resonates with your words because as I continue to age as a single woman, the possibility of never having children becomes more and more real to me, as well. It’s a different kind of grief, but related, I think. I appreciate your reflections.

  10. Kat
    September 27, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    I can’t imagine your pain but I admire your courage and willingness to keep moving.

    • October 11, 2014 at 8:21 pm

      Thank you, Kat. I admire yours, as well.

      With heart,

  11. October 6, 2014 at 11:22 am

    As always the lyricism of your voice is inspiring. I especially love the imagery of the winds of fall blowing in and the gifts it could bring. You lay your heart out there. I’m still working on the courage to be that open. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Autumn in the Midwest is gorgeous, and I am especially missing it this year. The pictures made me smile and long for chili, corn bread, and apple cider.

    • October 11, 2014 at 8:24 pm

      Nguyen, thank you for your lovely comment. I can assure you, I never meant to be so open with complete “strangers”. But there is something so sacredly beautiful about speaking of one’s scars that limits their power. I hope you will find That voice, if you truly want it, and look forward to reading your future posts.

      With heart and health,

  12. October 10, 2014 at 5:06 am

    Dani, you write so beautifully. I cannot begin to imagine the pain of a lost pregnancy, but I feel a connection to your writings because I worry about that future for myself and because I have experienced another type of trauma and trauma is trauma regardless of its source. My heart goes out to you.

    On a lighter note, fall is my favorite season. The smells and colors are so much more than those in other seasons, somehow, and the crispness of the air puts me in mind of new beginnings and “the courage to move on”, as your second leaf says. Hurrah for fall!

    • October 11, 2014 at 8:30 pm

      Thank you for your beautiful comment, Annie. And you’re right, ” trauma is trauma regardless of its source”. I pray your past wounds might be healed and that you will never intimately know the pain of losing a child. But if you do, know you’ll have a sister-in-loss to hold your hand along the way.

      Blessings to you,

    • October 12, 2014 at 10:07 pm

      Annie, I’d love to connect with you via email. If you don’t mind, would you message me at:

      P.S. I tried to find yours, but no success 😦
      P.P.S. If you’d rather not, that’s okay too. Just let me know either way. Thanks.

      • October 13, 2014 at 12:06 am

        Dani, of course I’d love to connect with you. Sending you an email now.

  13. October 13, 2014 at 2:12 am

    Hi Dani,
    I just found this post, and don’t know how I missed it in September. I always read anything from you ASAP.
    I love autumn as well, but since I live in south Florida now, I have to enjoy it through memories and photos, and wonderful written images such as yours. Thank you.
    I love the leaves being used to define and refine emotions involved in loss and living. I may create my own little autumn this year.
    Bless you as you journey own, and thank you for sharing the ride. A burden shared truly is lighter.
    Together, we live and love and face tomorrow with expectation.

    • December 13, 2020 at 2:50 am

      Taking a walk down memory lane and realized I never replied to your comment. I’m so sorry, Jane. We are finally slipping out of Fall and into Winter here in TN, but I hold it in my heart year round, so it doesn’t feel so distant and the longing is less ❤

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