I had the incredible opportunity to unplug from cancer and the demands of “real life” for 2 months this summer. As I reflect on this time, which seemed to pass in the blink of an eye, I am filled with gratitude… with a thin lining of sadness.
As I drive south toward home, tears stream down my face. Hidden from view behind my large orange sunglasses. My tears: sadness that these fun times are behind us, joy for the memories we made together, concern for the stress reality brings, pain for my friends who are too sick to have a summer like this. Fear of when this will be our reality too.
During the summer I just let it all go… schedules, consistently healthy choices, bedtimes. I love that for our time in White Lake – we almost always have another little kiddo sleepily stumble out of the bedroom with our boys in the morning. Sleepovers that last for days, ice cream for lunch, swimming, sailing, fishing. Running down the sand dunes with arms wildly flailing until you hit icy cold Lake Michigan. Sharing our little slice of heaven with visitors from Louisville and Alabama. Spending time with my parents and lifelong friends. Each day unfolds with spontaneity. My son Bennett lost his shoes for days (at least a week, not really sure – days blur together) And it didn’t matter. Literally barefoot and free….
Then, we spent time at Brule Ridge, our family’s place in the upper peninsula of Michigan where the boys shoot bb guns, ride 4 wheelers, swim in ponds and catch crayfish. From sun up to sun down, we are outdoors. One afternoon I even sat and read a book in one of the gardens- surrounded by hummingbirds, swooping in and out of the orange flowers that surrounded me. I closed my eyes and listened to the constant song of the river… until I was shot from the deck above with a water gun and the pleading of two little boys to take them four-wheeling. So is life with boys! Then on to Petoskey, where we spent time with my mother in law and our 95 year old remarkable great grandmother. As her body slows and her health falters we simply listen to her stories. To live that long… what a story she has. We missed pre- season soccer games for this. Without a second thought. Priorities.
Before this was our trip to Glacier National Park and K Bar L Ranch in Montana then our family reunion at Fish Lake. So much packed into one summer…
Now we are headed home. Thankfully our kids are eager to see friends and start the soccer season.. I mean school year. They can’t wait to “see their bedrooms.” Completely oblivious to my tears, in their minds- summer is just a part of life. They love it, they embrace the freedom and then they roll back into town ready for whatever lies ahead. Their excitement buoys my sinking optimism as I plug back into the news, current events around the world, cancer & obligations.
I think about it each year, what if we just unplugged for good. Found a place where we can just be free. Free of the stress of professional obligations, devastating world events, over-scheduled craziness and cancer… Especially when we know how fragile it all is?
I guess the reality is…. reality. We have to be aware of world events because we live in this world. We must teach our children to live in the real world, face adversity and seek love. Jobs are important because, well food is a necessity and I like to shop at Whole Foods. Medicine is keeping me healthy which we get at a low cost thanks to good insurance, which unfortunately is tied to employment (that’s a whole other topic). And, let’s face it, cancer is actually not something we can just escape forever. Reality also has a lot of wonderful parts to it too – friends, school, soccer, Hope Scarves, backyard gardens, parks to trail run, ice cream shops. So, we plug back in.
But, we carry the carefree days of summer with us. As memories that make us who we are. Maybe our kids won’t remember all the details of the fun things we did together… but, I know these experiences shape them into who they are. They might not always remember the 3 mile hike to the dune campsite or the spectacular sunset where we splashed in the waves and body surfed until the beach fire roared into the night sky. But, these experiences shape them. And, I was there. I was there for all of it – laughing and smiling and soaking up the love. I wasn’t bogged down by the fear of the perceived future. Or counting the days until we left. I lived fully and intentionally in each and every moment.
I carry this with me. Into whatever life holds for us.
Living life to the fullest – one sun kissed, wave splashing summer day… or laundry laden, weed pulling, bill paying day at a time.
life is beautiful. live it. live it all!