Stronger than Summer

A picture of my dog Fred this evening, as we are all feeling like crap (including Fred). My kids are still sick and so my daughter won’t be able to attend the first day of school tomorrow. And my daughter loves – truly, madly, deeply LOVES – school. When we told her we have to keep her home, she elicited heart-wrenching sobs and clung to me as if her life depended on it. My shirt is still wet from her tears.

This is far from the end of the world. But it is a huge bummer. We are doing everything we can to make her understand why she has to stay home, that it’s for her benefit but also to protect her friends from catching the virus she has. I promised her a trip to Target tomorrow to get the light-up Batman sneakers that she wants. There will be toys. There will be ice cream. There will be whatever it takes to keep both my kids happy enough to make it through another sick day.

Not the end of the world, but a crappy way to end a strange summer. This afternoon it poured rain despite the blue sky and sunshine. The clouds eventually rolled over our house, followed by more sun. And no rainbow. And that epitomized it for me. Summer 2018, you have been weird and wonderful. Painful and joyous. Hot and soggy, crisp and clear. Mostly hot and soggy, though, let’s be real.

But you did not get the best of me. I am stronger than I was in June. Despite our wackadoodle summer schedule I have stayed dedicated to my workouts and, for the last 61 days, ditching booze. I am two weigh-ins away from achieving Lifetime status at Weight Watchers. I have defined some personal goals and started to put the pieces in place to achieve them. Despite the seemingly endless rain, the unexpected grief, and having to slather sunscreen on two squirmy kids for the last three months, I am stronger. Exhausted and gutted for my daughter at the moment, I grant you, but stronger.

And my family is stronger, too. Because we navigated our first loss of a loved one together. Because our kids conquered their fears of the pool and learned to love swimming. Because we traveled together and it almost felt like a real vacation. Because we are all feeling our daughter’s pain tonight and we are taking it on together.

I am grateful to have this perspective. As much as I am ready to tell this summer to F off, I also recognize the good stuff. If I were still drinking, my perspective would be skewed toward the negative. I would not have my now trusty gratitude to reinforce me when the tough stuff starts to dig in with its gnarly claws.

I am gutted for my daughter. I called my mom and cried. I talked to my husband and cried some more. I am just so, so sad for her. I didn’t cry in front of her though. I just let her cry all over me for as long as she needed.

If I were drinking, I would be drinking tonight, because Labor Day Weekend – the excuse of a holiday weekend always trumping the appropriateness of having a drink under whatever other circumstances happen to be present. My devastated daughter would not have been enough to keep me from pouring my wine. In fact her sadness would have been part of my justification.

If I were drinking tonight, I would have shut the door on gratitude. Shut the door on empathy. Thrown open the door to pity, which I would have split between my daughter and myself. I would have been thinking about my next glass of wine as I held my sobbing daughter in my arms. I would have had more to drink. And tomorrow morning would have started with a hangover and shame and guilt.

Instead, tonight was full of love and empathy. And tomorrow will start bright and clear. My daughter will still be sad. We will all still be tired, and my kids will likely still be in the throes of this nasty virus, but we will get through it together.

Because we are stronger than one strange summer.

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