Healing from Loss: Memories of Summer

What does summer mean to you?

Summer is my favorite time of the year but it is also one of my saddest times. The most vivid of my memories over the course of my life have always been of summer.

When I was four, I played outside after dinner in my white seersucker shorty-pajamas that were dotted in crayon colors. I rocked on a paint-chipped wooden horse rocker that lurched on the uneven flagstone patio next to tin garbage pails that reeked of old milk.

When Marika was four I took her to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival where mountains of watermelons were stacked under willow trees. Wearing her pink angel wings, she was sticky and dripping pink down her chin and chest as she tore into her slice of watermelon, not quite having mastered the art of spitting out the seeds.

I took Marika and her brother to the ocean with boogey boards. They were laughing and fearless in the waves as I stood stiffly alongside them, nervously jumping up with each swell.

When I was fifty and Marika was eleven, I had climbed the lifeguard’s tower, high up over the waterfront at Camp Scatico, to blow the whistle that commanded the whole of Girls’ Side to stop for a buddy count and when, baked from the sun, I climbed back down to the white paint-cracked docks, Marika gave me a big wet hug.

Summer has always been a time of campfires and roasting things over them on sticks, blueberry and then raspberry picking, watching fireflies, getting wet without worry, wearing shorts and sandals, and feeling light and free. But you know the summer will end and there are question marks or blanks about what comes next and, around the middle of August, you need to face the inevitable nagging thing that was so easy to blow off while the stretch of so many long and hot summer days lured you away. Summer always ends like a slowly burning candle that melts shorter and shorter still, with a dark wick which finally curls up in a puddle of wax and extinguishes itself in a long rising wisp of grey smoke.

Memories of Summer
Marika Warden, October 18, 2009

I close my eyes to see your face
Your image prompts my heart to race
As I relapse, I retrace
My memories of summer.

A night so clear we couldn’t miss
A single star.  Complete bliss!
And then we shared our first real kiss
At the eve of summer.

Another night, dark and warm
We didn’t put our swimsuits on.
I just floated in your arms
Shivering in summer.

Lying on a hill out West,
I found myself quite underdressed.
You held me close beneath your vest
Stargazing in summer.

That last night I knew was due
I just could not face the truth.
I really did want to tell you
That I was sick that summer.

My mind’s snapshot of this summer is of floating in a friend’s pond at the Sunday Morning Hikers’ annual party. Overhead is the big  inverted bowl of blue sky laced with the tops of tall dark trees. All around, friends float, dogs paddle, and the coolest but warmest welcoming water surrounds and hugs and holds every grateful inch of me.

What memories will you hold of this summer?

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