Summer Stock

Kiara contemplates summer and fall. 
Summer begins that first week of June with a farewell.

The school year comes to an abrupt end when a phone call from my sister indicates things are not going well. I need to get home. I leave my classroom a mess. There is no last day of school, no yearbook signings, no hugs from students. There is no gleeful send-off into summer.

There are ten days in Portland. Every day is trips to the hospital, hours in a critical care unit watching machines that track each heartbeat, each breath.

There are breakfasts with Dad, lunches with my brothers and sister. There are lonely trips for coffee or ice cream with the hipsters of Portland.

There is a positive pregnancy test that feels like some sort of trick life is playing on my forty-year-old body.

Things with Mom get worse, or they just don't get better. We must think about what Mom would want. Then we must advocate for her. There are decisions to make, and every conversation is a challenge. There is prayer and song, tears and silence.

We finally let go, and our family of six is brought to five.

On Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, we hold Mom's Memorial. There is family and friends, tears and laughter. There are long moments when grief and loss overwhelm. There are
stretches of nothing.

I come home to LA and Mom is there. She is with me when I wake up Kiara in the morning. She is with me every time I sit down to the page. She is with me at the beach and in the car. She is here.

There is rain in LA this summer, but mostly beautiful days of sunshine.

The pregnancy that once felt like a trick has been confirmed and the doctor calls it a miracle. David and I watch this new life squirm on a grainy, black-and-white screen with awe.

I head back to work even though summer still shines strong and will for another couple of months. I will continue to soak in the sun, and breath in the beach air. I will cling to the memory of easy summer days.

I will hold onto summer until fall makes me forget.

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