As the Fourth of July holiday comes and goes, some say summertime is just gearing up and others say summer is half over already. Summer conjures up many childhood memories for me, as I’m sure it does for you, too. Every year when school was let out and summer months stretched ahead, brimming with possibility, free time, relaxed expectations, family vacations and just hanging out, it felt like time slowed down for those three months. But in reality, those summer months disappeared far more quickly it seemed, than the others. Before we knew it, summer was over.
How I look at summer has changed, probably for good. Sometimes I think how I look at just about everything has changed. I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing. I just know it’s true.
Summer now conjures up memories of last summer, which I refer to as ‘the summer that wasn’t’. Last summer was filled with unpleasantness, like too many doctor appointments to keep track of.
Now summer reminds me of my bilateral, uncomfortable tissue expanders and pain pills. Summer reminds me of chemotherapy and trying to prepare for it when I had no idea how to do that. Summer reminds me of sleepless nights spent on my blue, leather sofa where I tried to squelch down irrational thoughts that seeped into my mind more easily in the dark. Summer reminds me of wig shopping on a hot, humid July afternoon when the last thing I wanted to do was try on wigs that felt too tight and made me look like somebody else. Summer reminds me of eating tasteless food and trying to drink gallons of metallic tasting water to wash chemo toxins from my system, which always sounded contradictory to me because didn’t I need those toxins to stay in my body for as long as possible so they could better do their job of killing off renegade cancer cells? Summer reminds me about the hair dilemma I wrestled with, the one about shaving it all off or not when it started falling out. I didn’t.
Of course, some memories about last summer are good ones. My family rallied. Everyone pitched in. Tasks were divided up. Things got done, at least the important things. We learned how to distinguish between the important stuff and the ‘we can let that slide’ stuff. Implementing this distinction still comes in quite handy!
Last summer also had special occasions. One of my nieces got married, which of course, was on a very hot, sultry August afternoon, definitley not a day intended for wig wearing. Daughter dressed up and looked beautiful as a bridesmaid in said wedding. One of my nephews became a dad for the first time. These were special summertime things.
Ordinary summertime things kept happening as well. Flowers bloomed. Boats drove by on our little lake. We watched baseball games, visited relatives and went to a few summertime movies.
Life went on ‘like usual’. Cancer disrupts life, but it doesn’t stop it.
My family and I carried on and attempted to act as normal as we could, which really wasn’t normal at all.
And just like all the summers that came before it, last summer, too, passed quickly.
Now ‘the summer that wasn’t’, is kind of a blur, but at the same time, it’s eerily vivid and clear in my mind.
If I choose, I can replay every detail, but when I do, it feels almost as if I am watching a movie about someone else’s life. How could those things have happened in my life?
I feel detached from the experiences of last summer even though I know I am not. It’s an odd sensation.
I still find it all quite unbelievable.
Mostly, this summer I am grateful it’s not last summer, ‘the summer that wasn’t’.