For our children: Tashina, Alysia, Aprile and Joshua

My eyes are closed, but I can feel the gentle wind blow my hair lightly into my face.

Forward, onward, it says.

The fragrance of moist earth, decaying leaves and living things, envelope my senses. Branches creak and leaves flutter, letting me know what I’m leaving behind.

It’s very comfortable here.

Ahead of me there is a different sound. As my eyes slowly open, I realize I’m standing on a smooth gravel path at the edge of a field that continues to the horizon.

A symphony of patterns is created by the quiet rustling of many blades of tall grass as the wind ebbs and flows and whirls.

Behind me is the forest, a place rich with life and activity. If I turn around and squint, I can see the path winding back through the trees and up and over a rise until it disappears into the cloaking coverage of branches and leaves.

This place is familiar. This place I know.

My gaze slowly returns to the field, and I feel a flutter in the pit of my stomach. Anxiety? Maybe. Excitement? Possibly. What should I do?

There is nothing on the horizon to give me direction, not a tree or a structure to head toward.

Again, I look at the path at my feet and realize I am standing at a point where the trail splits, each branch taking a slightly different direction.

I try to follow each one with my eyes to see if I can determine the place it will take me … but each time the grass bends low and it’s gone.

So, which way do I go?

Forward, onward, says the wind.

So I close my eyes again and, with some trepidation, take a deep breath and boldly take a step out into the field.

What a feeling of freedom that decision has given me. Now that the path is chosen, I move forward.

It isn’t smooth and flat, as I originally thought, but undulates and winds like the paths of my memories.

I can’t see where the path leads, but as I listen and look to the left and right, I discover all kinds of wonderful things.

A cricket jumps to the next blade of grass and makes a rasping noise as it rubs its legs together. A little farther on, the grass shivers at the edge of the path.

I pause and patiently wait.

First, a small pink nose, and then a soft brown head appear. The nervous rabbit looks at me with fear, sniffs the air and then looks at me again.

Deciding, just as I have, to take a risk, it hops across the path and disappears into the vegetation on the opposite side.

Forward, onward, says the wind.

And so I continue. Not knowing where this particular path will lead me, I realize it is not as scary as I thought it would be.

As I embrace my choice, I feel a sense of wonder and discovery. I try to savour every moment by using all of my senses to taste, smell, see and feel.

Believing in myself opens the way to a rainbow of opportunity.

And if I really don’t like where I am, who says I can’t simply wade through the gently swaying grass until I find a different path.

The fear and anxiety start to slowly flow away. A new peace fills me.

Forward, onward, says the wind.

As my children move away on their own personal pathways, leaving me at the edge of our forest, our home for so many years, I will rejoice in their new freedom and move …

Forward, onward, as the ‘wind’ keeps telling me.