Summer, again

July 18, 2011

All around me, people have been complaining about our late summer, about the rain and the cool weather.

I listened, smiled, nodded. I didn’t completely disagree with them, either. When your child is extremely active and her favorite activity is climbing things, it’s immensely helpful to be able to take her to the park, where she can climb things that aren’t bookshelves, dinner tables, or kitchen counters. But even as I was hoping to get an afternoon romp in with Dot, even as I was smiling and nodding, I was thanking my lucky (well, sometimes lucky) stars for the cool weather.

Now, it’s here. The sunshine, the heat, the smells. I find myself hiding again, shoring up my strength, focusing on making it through. Just making it through.

Summer used to be many things to me. I’ve never liked the heat, but I’ve loved so much of what goes with it. It still carries the scents of years of birthday parties, of running around at the farm with my brother, of camping trips in Glacier Park, of my summer job as a bible camp counselor, of skinny dipping and learning to drink and smoke at the bible camp. Sometimes, a warm day makes me crave a clove cigarette. Sometimes, I hear a five-guitar chorus off in the distance playing “Rocky Mountain High” or catch a hint of the evening air at the farm, full of hay and dust and frog song.

But the warmer it gets, the more I realize that, for now, summer is still mostly about Teddy, about missing him and remembering him, and remembering those hard weeks before his arrival and how they were filled with hope and love and the sort of prayer that you engage in when you don’t really think anything will come of it, but you’re too desperate not to pray.

Summer is hearing that my son has a life-threatening condition while my mother sits with us in the ultrasound room. Summer is listening to my dad and N put a ceiling fan up in the bedroom and knowing that Dad is glad to be doing this because there’s so little else he can do. Summer is driving back and forth from the nearest big city where specialists tell us that things look serious but that we won’t know the outcome until Teddy is born. Summer is non-stress test after non-stress test where Teddy won’t stay on the monitor (my wiggly little man) and so we end up in the damned L&D rooms forever. Summer is the fear in the hospital staffs’ voices when they tell me that I need to call right away if there’s any hint of pre-term labor. Summer is lying on the futon, drinking water and trying to send my mind away by reading and by watching junk television. Summer is those two wonderful, hope-filled weeks in Portland where I bought a baby sling and actually thought I might get to use it, where I sat and drank coffee with other parents at the Ronald McDonald House and felt comforted by the presence of people who knew what it is like to fear for your child. Summer is a too-long induction, a fever, an emergency caesarean, four doctors standing in my hospital room in the morning asking me how I’d like the world to end. Summer is too brief a time holding my baby. Summer is letting him go.

And I wouldn’t give any of this up, not one moment with Teddy, even the hard ones. I’m not sure I’d even give up the strangely vivid remembering that comes with this season of warmth and light.

But between you, me, and the lamp-post, I wish summer were still about the clove cigarettes and the skinny dipping.



  1. I’m not as keen on late summer as I once was either.

    the sort of prayer that you engage in when you don’t really think anything will come of it, but you’re too desperate not to pray.

    Such a perfect description of those days.

    It is strange how the season can bring back memories so vividly.

  2. I can relate to so much of this, only with the seasons reversed, of course.

  3. Hello. I just found your blog through the Mel’s and I love this post. I have rather similar feelings about this season (you can see from my recent blog post if you want). I’m so sorry you had to go through that.

  4. Ah clove cigarettes. Now THAT is a summer memory that takes me back. I know all the complicated happy and sadness you mention here will be forever wrapped up in the Christmas holidays for me. But I hope that even with the sadness, these times get back some of their sparkle eventually.

  5. This post gave me goosebumps – so beautifully written and sad and true. I have similar feelings about October and autumn, crunching through fallen leaves and bonfires. But it’s not about that now …

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