Monday, August 4, 2014

Day 1,512: The Dog Days

This summer is coming to a close. It hardly seems possible. Didn't summer just begin? How can everything start and end at the same time? Why are we always coming and going? I remember summer stretching before me as an endless series of empty days, but empty in the best way. I remember how much there was to do when I had nothing to do. I work full time and can't give that kind of summer to my kids. Sometimes, I feel guilty about that, but most of the time, I don't. Sometimes I wonder how their summers differ from mine, which exist in some kind of hazy sepia in my mind but were probably really technicolor Koolaid in real life.

I wonder, so I decided to ask.

I asked my kids what they love about summer. What is it about summer that's different than any other time of year, what will they remember?

And they answered me.

Lenny said: going to the pool. going up north. catching fireflies. staying up late-ish. having a lot of time to play outside. no homework. mommy's birthday! riding my bike. seeing my summer school friends. parades. freeze pops.

Augie said: eating corn. waking up later. swimming in the lake and going to the beach. fireworks. popsicles. going to summer school together (with Lenny). minigolf. Daddy's birthday. also, I want to play flag football. and this summer is better than last summer because last summer I was only 4 and Lenny was 6.

And Lenny corrected him: Um, no, I was 7!

And then Augie finished with this: in a few weeks at the end of the summer it will be my very last day of Montessori. on your last day, you get to do whatever you want. you can do big thinking work. or read. or draw. you can do anything. But only on the day you're leaving forever.

OK. Well, what can I say to that? What is there to add? So, I asked Gabe, as he ran around outside cleaning gutters in the rain. What are the best things about summer?

And Gabe said: hammock time. sudden downpours in the sunlight. going from feeling like the humidity is a powerful fist in your face to the soothing cool of the air conditioning. mowing the lawn. sand castles. the clothes Katy wears that show off her legs.

So then I had to think about my own answers. I had a harder time. I guess when push comes to shove I would say:

fruit. the way it's so much cooler in the early mornings when I take my walks. the evening light in June. the beach. freckles. realizing I feel kind of insecure wearing a bikini again and it's because I've gained a little weight, not because I lost a breast. memories of other summers. my front porch. sandwiches for dinner. no socks. no shoes. putting the laundry outside to dry. rainstorms. other people's patios.

And then, there's this:

the best part about summer is this summer, specifically, being what it is. The best part is what my family didn't say. No one said, well, it sure as hell beats last summer. No one said, finally, a summer without cancer! No one reminded me what was going on a year ago. Their minds were lost in other thoughts.

And though my mind was not lost in other thoughts, and I did remember and think about what my family didn't say, now I can know this: I have given my family the kind of summer I remember. Maybe we have had those kinds of summers all along, no matter what else was happening. My children have had summers just like the ones of my childhood: colorful but already faded, busy and lazy, stubbornly placed outside of the real world, full of nothing more than the memories you'd like to keep.

1 comment:

  1. Katy -

    Tyson forwarded your blog yesterday. I was diagnosed with 3neg breast cancer in the beginning of July and today is day 1 of AC chemo. Thanks for writing, I am reading from the beginning of the blog as that is where I am today. But I like the ending so far, summers should be fun. Dorothy