Since July, when Scott died, I have wanted to write about it. It’s what I do – write about stuff. It’s how I process. But I think, nobody can write about this. Because it’s impossible. No one can touch with words the bottomless grief that he left behind in his parents and siblings. No one can capture the perfection of a 22 year old boy who died horribly decades too soon.
What is the shape of the hole left in too many lives to count? Is it his shape? Big and tall – I can see the outline in my mind’s eye. Broad and burly with a floppy shock of hair. I color in the outline I see, the outline left when he was wrenched out of the world. I color his hair sunflower yellow and his eyes blue. The crinkles come next, at the corners of his ever-smiling eyes. The grin, shit-eating and fun, and full of limitless love for whoever he was smiling at. The low slung jeans fade forward from the void of his outline, cornflower blue, muddy cuffs. He just got in from the farm where he worked all day with his dad. Tending cows, mending fence, plowing in straight, fragrant lines.
Bash Bish falls, right in my backyard. Well, so to speak.
Summer when I was a child was a joy because I got to spend lots of time with my dad, stepmother, and sisters. As a mom, it meant time with my children – lazy hours of just being, digging, singing, or eating sun warmed garden veggies. As a teacher it was time to regroup, plan, and write. But even so, summer has never been my favorite season. Or even my second or third favorite.
But year after year, I wonder how I forget all there is to love about the summer. Here is my list of at least some of the things for which I am very grateful as the summer of 2014 winds to a close.
- A chance to live under the same roof with my daughter for maybe the last time. Laughing with legs crossed and eyes streaming, watching the same stupid movies over again and not minding, playing a never ending game of gin rummy, walking to Bash Bish, finding any excuse to eat out, parallel play on our computers, cooking together, and all the rest.
- Sisterhood in the tropics with the 9 St. Martin Chicklets, sweating and drinking and throwing Tarot in soft air, braless.
The sisterhood here represented by our cocktails.
- Road trip to Virginia all on my own with a big fat book on CD and as many stops at Starbucks as I wanted.
- Sorting books with Sandy McAdams at Daedalus Bookstore in Charlottesville, smearing book dust across a damp brow as I folded the cardboard lids closed (apparently not everyone can do that) and marking KEEP or GIVE AWAY in thick black Sharpie. It’s all about companionship with an old friend, and, well… books.
Best bookstore in the country — 100,000+ books. Daedalus in Charlottesville. An institution. Not an inch of wasted space.
- Sitting under a vineyard’s pergola drinking a glass of wine with my friend Anne, falling into the familiarity of sisterhood with a string of days that did not make demands stretching out behind and ahead of us.
Genuine Virginia grapes at a genuine Virginia vineyard/winery.
- A family weekend with my lovely son in Vermont. All four of us with 36 whole hours together. Time as a family was once commonplace and precious. Now it is rare and precious. We shopped for shoes. We drank iced coffee. We hung around and talked. I sat for hours with everyone as they fished lazily for bass and catfish in a huge “pond.” I counted far more blessings than fish that day.
First catch of the afternoon.
- Middle Bass Island and hours of cards with a sister, a daughter, a niece, and cousins of several generations. We sat on big blankets looking out at the vastness of Lake Erie. Everyone’s legs and heads were bare. Trees overhead dappled us with August light and we sat until evening.
Lake Erie at sunset from the grove on Middle Bass Island.
- Restaurants with outdoor seating, like The Greens, in my humble town.
Dinner on the porch at The Greens. The place to be at sunset.
- As ever – endless lines of laundry hung to dry in the sun and breeze. This is maybe the main thing that keeps me living in the country.
- The freedom to go to work at 10, leave for lunch, or work on Saturday but not on Monday.
- Great music in small bars.
The Nolan sisters rocking out.
- Late night TV marathons on Netflix with no thought of the consequences.
- Fresh corn. Fresh greens. Fresh tomatoes. Fresh mint. And as much basil as I could ever want.
Summer always has its own rules, its own schedule, and its own vault where indiscretions and late night confessions can live out their lives. I am grateful for those days when the air and my skin don’t notice each other. It’s like being in a giant womb called the universe, only I get to have teeth, and my eyes open.
Thank you, summer.