But summer has been bringing me some lovely moments which I record in my gratitude journal -
~the pleasure of sleeping with windows open after a long heat wave
~finding baby peppers growing in the garden box
~waking to bird song
~walking Moose in the coolness of night
~an abundance of marigolds
~fresh peaches from the farmer's market
~monarch butterflies on my walks
~an afternoon thunderstorm
~corn still warm from the sun and the fields
Ah, corn. I buy it from a truck parked daily in the corner of our neighborhood gas station. I buy 6 ears and they always throw in an extra "just in case" an ear is less than. We usually end up with left-over ears and recently I have taken to cutting the kernels from the cob to use for soup.
I am cutting a cooled ear when I remember cleaning out my mother's kitchen shortly after her death. In her freezer were six small plastic containers, each filled with corn. Individual meal sized portions of summer corn set aside for winter months when the taste of fresh corn would be most welcome. I am struck by the hopefulness of that action and then undone by the reality that I held the bits of my mother's last summer. It felt sacrilegious, but I emptied each container down the disposal. There were too many memories to swallow in her stuffed apartment. Crackers of every kind (she was a cracker afficienado), canned goods long expired (stashed away for those rainy days that never arrived), spices I still use, and a half emptied bottle of Kahlua. (DId she drink it with friends? Or by herself? A solitary pleasure enjoyed as a daring gestures in her golden years?)
I realize part of the weightiness I have felt this summer perhaps can be attributed to a growing list of bittersweet August memories. The last real season with my mother. The last time I saw my father was in August. He was in the hospital recovering from by-pass surgery and I flew out to help my mother for a week. When it was time for me to return home, I hung back from my mother and brother. I slipped back into his room. I didn't want to believe I was saying good-bye, but part of me knew.
My father asked me, "Do you think I will be alright?" I can't remember what exactly I said, but I know I reassured him. I reminded him he was going to have a new granddaughter and that he would be meeting her soon. He had to get better.
Less than two weeks later, the Husband and I flew to China to bring Cowgirl home. One month after I became a mother, I lost my father. He never got to see Cowgirl in person, but at least he knew finally we had become a family. He never said so, but I know he was thrilled for me to become a mother.
This month will be our ten-year anniversary. Ten years as a family with Cowgirl. Next month will bring the ten year anniversary of my father's passing. As I get older, I become more fluid in the dance between grief and joy, sorrow and gratitude, loss and hopefulness. I store up memories like my mother put away corn. I feed upon the moments, the memories to sustain and inspire me.
And we fill up our days with new moments, new memories. The imperative is to enjoy the Now because the future can be a long way out and all we have is right here, right now: life rich and hard and heartbreaking and heart filling all at once.