August 2013: For most children, summer, the end of the school year, the expectation of long lazy days void of schedules ,is a time of joy. For my grandchildren, it is a time of sorrow. I started noticing the sadness mid-May. The days were stretching, the evenings stayed warm and the fireflys filled the yard. School days were winding down. In my house, shoulders drooped, kids went to bed earlier and tempers flared. I couldn’t put my finger on why. We tried to chalk it up to the anticipation of the end of elementary school for the middle child, or the late nights at the ball field for our oldest grandson, but it didn’t add up, we went to bed earlier, canceled activities and tried to talk through the expectations of the next school year. Slowly it came out.. in bits and pieces of conversations my husband and I put togehter the puzzle. Summer memories for my grandchildren have only recently been filled with camps and building forts and grilling on the deck. They have some fleeting wonderful memories, some brief times when things were going ok, of camping and trips to the play ground but they aren’t the memories that fill thier hearts they aren’t enough to erase the sadness of summer
The death of their brother is the worst, but other dramas, filled summer memories. They snuck out in odd ways during quiet conversations. Summer was when they were taken from their mother (TWICE), summer is when they hid behind the curtains while she was arrested. Summer is when Dad ran out of gas on the highway and they had to wait alone in a car while he went to get more gas. Summer was a time when they could not count on regular meals from the school. Summer memories for them are full of custody disputes and loud parties that got out of control. It was a startling realization. My husband wanted to brush it off.. to remind them they have it great now, they can relax. But the memories will never fade. The feeling of angst over the coming of warm summer nights has to be replaced with the knowledge that summer is a good time.
We have to do that. Its my job to fill summers with trips to the park the beach, the ballfield. To go to the farmer’s market for fresh corn, to sleep late and lay on the deck reading books. They will never forget the horrible memories they had each summer, the trauma they endured, but I am hoping to reduce the impact they have on their hearts.