Change of Seasons
On evenings this time of year when the buzz of the cicadas in the trees is at an almost deafening pitch, I always get a sense of longing for the warm afternoons on the lake and the rays of sunlight that are shortening with each passing day.
This year, the longing is coupled with the sadness we still feel over the loss of our Hershey dog, the devastation on our property from a ‘micro-burst’ and for the afternoons we didn’t spend on the lake for various reasons this summer.
But then I’m assigned a story that reminds me that longing and sadness is a state of mind that we can choose not to accept.
This week, I did a story on Matt, a 31-year-old father of three who, in the past five years, has had a shunt placed in his head; underwent a bone marrow transplant, which caused him to be in a wheelchair on oxygen for a time and fought leukemia into remission. (I’ll just use his first name here since the story has yet to run in the publication).
Matt’s family has been told so many times to get his affairs in order and take a last vacation that he’s added, “ain’t dead yet,” as part of his name when he introduces himself to anyone. Still, this past week, he and many others rode their motorcycles to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
I talked with Matt’s bone marrow donor, the two already shared a life saving bond and they now share a friendship. Matt’s donor told me he was intrigued the first time he spoke with Matt, because Matt was so upbeat and never had an ounce of pity for himself. He never asked “Why me?”
Although Matt’s family broke down when they were told he had leukemia, Matt said it really never did hit him and he’s glad, he said, because he probably wouldn’t be here if it had.
And then, we see the devastation and human suffering brought on by Hurricane Katrina. Who cannot watch the now famous CNN clip of the man who said his wife was swept out of his arms in floodwaters while she uttered what were probably her last words, “Take care of the kids and grandkids,” and not get emotional? Even the reporter interviewing the man was wiping tears away.
On Labor Day, its been a tradition of ours, one that started the year we were married 18 years ago, to load up the car and take our final vacation of the season. This year, we do have cause to celebrate. Steffi, our German daughter who lived with us for a year 15 years ago will be coming with us. Before this week, I only hoped her presence would temper the sadness we would feel loading that car for the first time in 9 years without Hershey.
But this week has really given me cause to not dwell on what we’ve lost.
No doctor has told us this will be our last vacation together. While the winds may have damaged our property and our aunt’s so that it will never look the same, none of us had to look each other in the eyes as we were being swept away.
My hope has turned to resolve. As we load up the car next week, I will look at that big smile on our daughter’s face that we have waited so long to see again, and just feel thankful we’ve been given another season of memories.