Part 1 of a 3-part series.
No matter how many times we are reminded how quickly life can change, we are still caught off guard when it does.
When tragedy strikes, we often wish we could hit the rewind button. Logically, we know we couldn’t have altered the course of events, but we wish we could relive those precious last days, weeks, and months. We imagine how we would savor every moment.
I wanted a complete do-over of Summer 2016 when I came across this forgotten photo on my phone:I snapped this shot from the patio of my brother and sister-in-law’s lake cottage, during their granddaughter’s 10th birthday party. I vaguely remember taking the photo. I wasn’t focused on anything in particular, but I think Old Glory waving in the wind must have caught my attention. The weather on that mid-July day was delightfully perfect, but this photo barely captures that.
It’s a beautiful shot, but also a painful reminder of one of the last days that summer seemed sunny and peachy. One of the final days before a cascade of events changed life for my family. I wanted to go back in time. Back to before a stomach ache began.
Of course, there are no mulligans in life. The only place life can rewind is in the mind.
Summer began on a happy note. May and June were lovely, fun-filled, blessedly ordinary months. We didn’t know that for our family, Summer 2016 would eventually become “the summer that wasn’t.”
What occurred each day during the month of July is crystal clear in my memory. The bitter and the sweet. The sweetness of early July is easy to remember…
How my 50 pounds of Georgia Peaches had ripened to perfection for canning, inconveniently on July 1st. Early that morning, to the dismay of my sister I set up my canning operation in the kitchen of her lake cottage…amid the July 4th weekend chaos. “This won’t take long!” I assured her. One quart in, and and my sister was headed to the E.R. for stitches. The perils of peach pitting, or conveniently dodging doing dishes for the entire holiday weekend?
I became a sloppy one woman operation. The sweet mess that covered every surface of the kitchen at the end of the day, was a metaphor for those first six weeks of summer. It was a deliciously golden time.
It was a cottage bustling with three generations, and kids at three stages: A toddler working on his first steps. Preschoolers in some unsactioned competition: seeing who could tear through the house at the highest speed, while simultaneously yelling gibberish at the highest decibel level. Teens
enjoying quality family time devoted to social media.
There was a July 4th shrimp boil. A joint 70th birthday party for dear cousins. A work trip to San Antonio for me.
Tinkerbell landing in Nana’s Fairy Garden. Golf cart shopping. Donut runs at dawn by boat.
Coffee talk. Bloody Mary mornings. Margarita afternoons.
Trips for ice cream in the evening. Lazy pontoon rides. Hours playing on Lily Pads.
Endless and hilarious rounds of Little Sally Walker walkin’ down the street.
I’ve heard it said, “You never realize you’re having the time of your life, until that time has passed.” It’s true. We were blissfully unaware of just how good life was.
In a way, it seems cruel that we didn’t know the fate that awaited.
Sure, a stem cell transplant was scheduled, but we believed it would be a success. Optimism, hope and faith gave us that belief.
Disbelief, disappointment and devastation loomed ahead, but we didn’t know it.
Optimism, hope, faith and love would sustain us through that, too…