Ah, November

Shelley Lieber • 6 min read

Do I have reasons to be grateful this year?

Ah, November

I have very mixed feelings about November this year. The month is associated with Thanksgiving, and it holds many sweet memories for me. As a young newlywed, I hosted the family holiday, and it became tradition for me to do so. To carry forward my past, I used my mother’s china and stuffing recipe. As the years progressed, my son and my niece were born the week of the holiday, and we celebrated their birthdays (again) with ice cream cake in addition to all the other desserts. All good.

This year November brings some other memories for me. I’ve always loved fall in Asheville because of the intense beauty, but along with the tinge of sadness I usually feel knowing that winter approaches, I have a pervasive sense of great loss this year.

Next week, on November 12, will be the one-year anniversary of Joe’s death. The signs of the changing of the season—the angle of the light, the shorter days, the cooler temperatures—this year have all served to remind to me of how very ill he was a year ago. And quite honestly, those memories break my heart.

I am planning a Celebration of Life memorial to be held at our spiritual center. It may be very sparsely attended due to people’s Covid-related travel and gathering hesitancies, but somehow an online or digital observance didn’t seem right to me. Joe was an in-person kind of guy, and the message I got was to hold it in a place he knew and loved. And so I am.

Yes, I got a message. No it didn’t arrive in my email box. Yes, I hear from Joe and the Other Side quite a bit these days. And it couldn’t come at a better time.

Right now I’m facing many decisions, important ones. The kind that tend to pile up when not promptly attended to, causing overwhelm. I don’t do overwhelm well. In fact, it makes me a little crazy and I start to overreact to the small things as much as I’m ignoring the big stuff. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I can get emotional. I can fly off the handle.

Only Joe could help in these situations.

Lesser men did not know what to do when I got into one of my “moods.” Some threw me to the curb. Others shamed or dismissed me as being “over-emotional” or “irrational.” Some said I was “too much.”

Not Joe. From Day One, he “got” who I am. He knew how to calm me and could bring me back when I lost my bearings.

It wasn’t any overt action that he took, such as sitting me down for a talk. Joe never mansplained.

The man had timing. He waited until I was ready. But his silence never felt judgmental or like I was being demeaned or patronized. I sensed his acknowledgment that whatever I was feeling was authentic, real, and justified. Most often he wouldn’t say anything—but I knew he was there waiting for me.

When I was ready, he managed to either have a suggestion or would talk me through my options so I could make a good choice. He was always on my side. Always had my back.

I miss having him here, of course, but now he sends the next best thing…the messages. At first, until I got used to the new system, he communicated in a variety of ways. Music, scents, and photos or old emails popping up on my phone. Sometimes his computer would spontaneously “wake” with an appropriate song in the iTunes queue or just pop on in response to me crying.

And I still get reaction from him to strong emotions on my part. But now, the response frequently comes in the form of the Tarot and Oracle cards. I also use I Ching, and even occasionally, the pendulum, but those are more for back up or confirmation, if needed.

For example, last Sunday night I was extremely tired and feeling wrung out after an entire weekend of writing and working on what I need to do for his Celebration of Life. It was about 10 pm when I walked into my bedroom, ready to fall into bed and sleep. Instead, I came face to face with the pile of laundry I had dumped on the mattress earlier to be folded—including the sheets that needed to be put back on the bed.

I had a mini meltdown. You know, like children do when they’re tired and just can’t deal with one more thing. I did what I had to do, complaining aloud the whole time. Once I finally got into bed, I regretted my childish response and noted that aloud as well. Then instead of closing my eyes, I let myself engage in a rousing round of self-talk, alternating between “I’m doing the best I can,” and “Yes, but it can be done better.”

The conversation eliminated the possibility for sleep, so I turned on the light and pulled out the Tarot cards. Normally I don’t do this in an agitated state; I wait for calm or at least clarity. I think I did at least draw some clearing breaths so as not to completely upend the reading.

Once again, Joe to the rescue. I pulled two cards, one from each of two different Tarot decks. These particular decks are not highly interpretive, like the traditional Rider-Waite, for example. These decks say what the card represents with little wiggle room, which was perfect for the moment. The last thing I wanted to do just then was ponder possible meanings.

The cards I pulled bore almost the exact words Joe would have said at that moment, so I have absolutely no doubt that he placed them for me.

Tarot Deck #1: The World. You completed something of great importance. Congratulations on a job well done. Now you’re ready to move onto something new. Enjoy and give yourself a pat on the back for doing a great job.

Tarot Deck #2: The Hanged Man. Sacrifice and surrender are necessary at times like this. Nothing in life is free nor does everything happen according to your timetable. When this card appears it means that any delays are in your best interest. Until all the elements are in place, just let go of any attachment to how you think things should progress and know that all will work out for the highest good of all.

Just like Joe would approach it. He’d bolster me with sincere compliments and encouragement. Then he’d offer the practical (and on-the-money) advice.

I was overcome. I keep alternating looks between the cards and the altar I’ve created for him across from the bed. It was the closest thing to having him with me at the moment, and I was grateful for it.

Two days later, I was less stressed due to having eliminated some items off my agenda until after his service. But I still had a lot to do, so it was time to clear my head and figure out a plan.

As I sat down to do a reading, what came to mind was to ask: What do I need to know for the days ahead in preparing for Joe’s Celebration and then to matters afterwards?

Here are the Tarot cards I drew:

Card 1, Past Influence: The Moon, reversed. This card suggests a disturbance in a natural cycle. My emotions are overriding my intuitive mind and I may be experiencing reactionary feelings. I'd say that describes Sunday's behavior pretty well!

Card 2, Present Influence: 5 of Cups, reversed. The suit of Cups corresponds to the astrological qualities of water, and primary key words associated with the suit are home, family, relationships, devotion. Upright, the image can indicate loss as the figure is looking toward three overturned cups while giving no attention to the upright two behind her. In reverse, as in my spread, the meaning suggests I’m ready to move on after the loss to pursue new things. Again, amazingly accurate to my present situation.

Card 3, Future Influence: The Knight of Swords, upright. This card represents a driven, ambitious individual who is ready to take action. The person is a good and confident communicator. An auspicious sign of what’s to come, especially in light of my planned expansion for my writing and card reading business.

November 2021 may not stand out in my memories as the best one ever, but the events of this month are serving as a reminder that even a grieving heart can look backward with gratitude and ahead with anticipation.

I will not be publishing a blog post or newsletter next week. See you again on November 19.

Curious about Tarot and Oracle Cards?

For the month of November, I am offering readings on a donation basis. Book your appointment here.

Image: Tony's Backyard ©Gemignani. Purchase prints here.

Text ©Shelley Lieber

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