July

Layered memories. Sand slipping through my hands. July.

As per tradition, I took time away from my busy work schedule to spend the 4th of July at our cabin in the Lake Tahoe basin. Walking the familiar streets and hiking trails where memories upon memories are layered I begin to think what would it be like to be looking out on new trails and new streets where there are no former memories?

On this trip, we sip coffee sitting by the edge of Lake Tahoe on Kings Beach, I’ve done this before of course, and I’ve had many picnics and days under my beach umbrella here as well. I remember floating in the water with my daughters the July after my husband died.

I look out on the bright blue water as these memories come rushing back to me. People walk by; mothers with children, couples holding hands, a woman on the phone. I have been all of these.

In my minds eye I see my children playing in the sand, busy and industrious. I pick up a handful and let it slide through my fingers. Those days are gone now, my children are adults, and will never play in the sand again.

I thought it would be easier, but as the calendar flipped to July the soft mood of June slipped away and my heart filled with dread. Grief is a thief. It comes unexpectedly and takes with it what it wants.

My teenage daughters took turns holding onto my inflatable raft as I floated in and out of shore on the cold alpine lake. We didn’t speak at at all. We were silent beneath the clear blue sky. It was the second anniversary of my husband’s death.

This year, we return to our familiar rhythms. We stay up late listening to music and playing games, not some of us, but all of us. We take time to look at the stars. The house is packed with friends and even the bunk beds are full. In the mornings, we sit together in the kitchen and plan our day. We go to the Truckee parade, we make burgers, we hike the Truckee River with our dog Polly. We watch fireworks from our deck. It was very much like the past, not the recent past, but before that.

On the way home we talk about going to Japan in the spring. My daughter likes International travel for the feeling of being suspended in time between continents. I try to imagine Tokyo, the bustling streets and the cherry blossoms. It would be new to me without memories from the past. A clean slate. A place where there would not be the ghosts of my children playing in the sand.

Love and blessings to all.

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