oh, little love. WHERE DO I BEGIN? this month was epic. june kicked off with a week of birthday celebrating, as you turned 8 years old. a few days before the official big day, i took you out of school. you came to work with me for a bit, we went to lunch with an awesome group of people in my fellowship program, and went to the aquarium. we took the train to meet matt, a great guy, covered in tattoos and piercings. you finally got your wish of getting your ears pierced and i got yet another piercing in solidarity. we met up with friends for dinner and ended the day with you sitting between your dad and i, enjoying an ice cream. a few days later, your golden birthday – turning 8 on the 8th – was celebrated under bright blue skies and the sun shining down on us. you were surrounded by so many loved ones, and your smile was constant. the love that you bring to others was so evident, as so many wanted to celebrate YOU.
the end of school neared, and you wrapped up soccer and lacrosse. i listened to you, as you reflected on all the excitement, in complete amazement with how emotionally mature you are. last weekend, you participated in your second triathlon with one of your closest friends. watching the two of you before the race, holding hands, and boosting each other up, was inspiring. you swam, biked, and ran. and when you crossed the finish line, you cried. the others we were with were concerned. i wasn’t. because i cry when i cross the finish lines of races too. it is a moving experience for me, to cross the finish, and it seems to be the same with you. we are cut from the same cloth in this way, feeling deeply connected to our mental and physical selves. i picked you up and hugged you, in unspoken understanding.
this week, you started your summer routine. one morning before camp, you decided to walk outside to take photos with kona. a few minutes later, i heard you screaming. you had been stung by a bee. i brought you inside and sat you down on the couch, putting a cold compress on the sting. after you had calmed down, i held your hand and told you that even though it hurt so bad, this sting was a lesson. you looked at me, confused. i went on to explain that compassion is created through challenging experiences. because you had been hurt in this way, you would be able to create a deeper understanding of others being stung. “tomorrow, if your friend emery is stung, you will know what it feels like. you will be able to sit her down, and put a cold compress on the sting. you will be able to understand her hurt. and you will be her friend, while you hold her hand and let her cry.” your tears subsided and you nodded in understanding.
today, we started the day talking about your grandfather Billy. i told you that it’s his birthday. 10 years ago today was the last time i ate birthday cake with him before he lost his battle to cancer. after work, i picked you up from the last day of basketball camp. as we walked to the car, you asked how my day was. i responded telling you i was thinking lots about Billy. on the way home, we listened to one of his favorite songs. we pulled into the driveway and i opened the door but couldn’t get out of the car. the music continued. i had tears running down my face. you walked over to the open driver side door and hugged me, telling me that it’s okay, similar to the time you comforted me in the cemetery a few months ago.
we had dinner outside, and you climbed trees. as the days pass, your love of the outdoors continues to grow. i so value the importance of connecting to nature and absolutely adore how you share this with me. as the night came to an end, we prepared for our upcoming mommy/daughter road trip. and i reflected on this path that you and i continue to walk down together. connected in blood, enhanced by our bond.
happy 8 years, my sweet little love. i think this next trip around the sun is going to be a good one.
i love you more than words.
“we have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this earth, and to tell our stories. these are the moments when the world is made whole. in my children’s memories, the adventures we’ve had together in nature will always exist.” ~ richard louv
when i was growing up, my family spent summers on a lake in new hampshire. so, every year, the day after school ended for the year, we would pack up the car and head north to our little cottage on the lake. i have fond memories of those road trips, with my Dad blaring jimmy buffet tunes and smoking cigars while driving. to this day, the smell of cigars always reminds me of my father.
for many years since my Dad has died, i travel to a place i’ve never been for father’s day. often, the day involves some sort of outdoor activity, yummy meal, and cocktails. this tradition has proven to be a wonderful way of honoring Billy, for me to explore new land and recall the strength of my relationship with my father. this year, i had a weekend filled with pure happiness. trail runs, meeting new people, live music, and of course, yummy meals and cocktails. and this year, one of my new friends offered me a cuban cigar while we were tailgating for a concert. i don’t normally smoke cigars. and yet, what a perfect remembrance of my father. to sit in the sun, laughing and playing, and just feel him there with me. it was so incredibly relaxing and comforting. as i drove home the next day, tears fell, as i thought of my weekend. i was just so damn grateful where the weekend brought me.
Billy has been gone for almost ten years. the past decade has brought way more challenges than i ever imagined possible. and yet, i realize that his death has made me a better person. this father’s day tradition is one tiny piece of that. it has opened my eyes to the importance of shared time with others, to continue to explore my physical and emotional boundaries, to honor the people in our lives that leave footprints on our heart, and to embrace experiences that fill my heart with happiness and love. and a little cigar smoke. . . miss you like mad, Dad. happy father’s day. it was a good one.