Falling Into Autumn

During the first summer my family stayed in a rented cottage at Chapman Beach in Westbrook, Connecticut, I experienced a feeling that remains with me today. Toward the end of each one of those summer days, I’d start to feel a sense of sadness, of loss, of something passing irretrievably. As it happened, day after day, the sense grew stronger as the end of the summer approached.

The end of each day constituted another summer day gone. As those days mounted, they started to constitute another summer gone. And the haunting melancholy continued to build until it was time to leave Chapman Beach, to leave Westbrook, to leave the magic of summer and return to Meriden, to the small comfort of my neighborhood friends, and to the crushing dread of another endless school year.

Now, 58 years removed from that first summer, no longer at Chapman Beach, I feel those same senses of sadness, loss, irretrievable passing, and melancholy at the passing of each day and at the passing of yet another summer.

What Is It?

As much as anything else, I recognize it as the passing of time. I know it to be the sense of winding down, of inevitability. I’m healthy and strong and creatively vital. I’m not afraid to die. I’ve already met my mortality. He doesn’t scare me. But I’m not immortal. Neither is this day. Neither is this summer.

I don’t want to be misunderstood. This is not a morbid contemplation. I’ve lost my grandparents. I’ve lost my father. I’ve celebrated the births of four grandchildren. I’m familiar with and accepting of the cycle. Because I’m human, I’m also familiar with and accepting of loss and grief. Each summer day past is a loss. Each summer past is a loss. And I grieve for those losses, as I believe I should.

This, Too, Shall Pass

There is joy and beauty and even newness in Autumn. I will find it and revel in it. I’ll be mindful of the singularity of its crisp air and bright colors. But I won’t be done out of my grieving for the summer days past, for the summer just past, and for all the summers past that still live indelibly within me.

Life is a glorious, heartbreaking thing. I embrace and celebrate all of it.


Mark O'Brien
Mark O'Brien
I’m a business owner. My company — O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) — is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as: Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do our work so well that seven of the companies (brands) we’ve represented have been acquired by other companies. OCG is different because our business model is different. We don’t bill by the hour or the project. We don’t bill by time or materials. We don’t mark anything up. We don’t take media commissions. We pass through every expense incurred on behalf of our clients at net. We scope the work, price the work, put beginning and end dates on our engagements, and charge flat, consistent fees every month for the terms of the engagements. I’m also a writer by calling and an Irish storyteller by nature. In addition to writing posts for my company’s blog, I’m a frequent publisher on LinkedIn and Medium. And I’ve published three books for children, numerous short stories, and other works, all of which are available on Amazon under my full name, Mark Nelson O’Brien.

SOLD OUT! JOIN OUR WAITING LIST! It's not a virtual event. It's not a conference. It's not a seminar, a meeting, or a symposium. It's not about attracting a big crowd. It's not about making a profit, but rather about making a real difference. LEARN MORE HERE



  1. This was beautiful on so many levels, Mark.

    We were standing by the window as the sun was setting the other day, and my husband asked if there was a light layer of clouds – the color was turning grayer? I noticed that the sky had the color it has most of the summer back in Scandinavia (56N) where the sun is always angled and has more atmosphere to go through than down south (32N) were we live now.

    What are our human “homing pigeon imprints”? Do we notice the Earth’s magnetic field? We certainly notice if the sky is bluer or paler than it “is supposed to be” – and Equinox is where the light changes the fastest of all year.

    Is the feeling wistfulness? (Whatever that is…)