I am sitting outside, on our deck. The sun is slowly sinking behind the pine trees. The sky has gone from pale blue to a deep and peaceful navy.
I tilt my head back, breathing in the summer smells of pine needle and grass. A hermit thrush is singing in the oak tree right behind me.
This is a peaceful moment. A calm and gentle pause in the panic that has become our reality. I want to embrace it, to hold it against my stuttering heart, to use these smells and these sounds as a buffer against my fear.
But as hard as I try to block out the world, my memory jumps up and ambushes me. I find myself sitting on this quiet deck, with my eyes closed, fighting against the flood of tears.
I remember Paul and I sitting out here, a couple of months after we’d moved in. We were a young couple then, with a baby girl and a boy on the way. This was our first and only home. We sat outside on a beautiful summer night and we looked up at the stars. Every promise, every hope, every dream was right there in front of us. With our arms around each other, we we secure that our future would be joyful.
And I remember lying out here on this deck with my three young children, gazing up at the Perseid meteor showers, watching the magic as it appeared above us.
I remember parties and dinners out here on this deck. I remember my first collection of potted herbs, arranged carefully in the corner, catching the rain and filling the air with their nurturing fragrance.
I remember our first dog. I remember when that dog ate a pair of expensive hockey gloves. And I remember when he was too feeble to walk up and down the stairs of the deck into the yard we had so lovingly fenced in just for him.
I sit quietly on this deck, with the summer air hot and wet around me.
My mind wants to hold onto this moment, but it keeps wandering back to other summer days.
I remember how excited and happy we were to put a hot tub on this deck, and how many wonderful ice cold evenings were soothed in it’s hot embrace.
The old hound dog is gone now, no longer in pain as he made his tender way down these steps. The hot tub is gone, it’s inner workings lost to a leak and the ravages of New England winters.
And those children are grown, up and out and on their own.
So I sit here, looking up sadly at the branches of the oak tree that has sprung up like magic in the place where my favorite white pine used to be. I look into the woods, and see that the clearing where I used to watch the hawks circling is now completely closed off by the branches of maples and birch.
It is a beautiful summer evening. I still have this sturdy deck and these lovely trees. I reach out with all my soul, looking for some peace and a sense of security.
But, missing the past, and the false sense of security that it gave me, I give up and go back inside.
Maybe the fall will bring me a better feeling of hope.