May 21, 2020

I Already Know What My Children Will Remember About the Summer of 2020

I already know what my children will remember most about the summer that's still stretched out ahead of us, waiting to unfold.

I'm not being presumptuous, naive, or cocky. It's just that I know what my teenager and young adult remember most about past summers, and they are things we can still count on this summer.

Thank goodness.

Every year, at the end of the summer, I pull the mom card and require my family to sit around the dinner table and recount their favorite memories from the past few months. (It's similar to Thanksgiving's "go around the table and say something you're thankful for," but without the pumpkin pie chaser. Not everyone considers this a loss.)

We've done this dance enough years now that I've seen a pattern emerge: the memories my children cherish most are always born in simple moments spent together...moments that are not being cancelled. They're made of sweet, gentle commodities that at their core are not in short supply.

I am not so cold-hearted nor so "glad half full" as to blow off all that will not happen this summer as if it's just some dandelion gone to seed. Our children are in mourning for what they will not do, even before they haven't done it. Summer camps, festivals, fairs, vacations, gatherings...all of these remain uncertain at best. If they do not happen, there will be no replacing them, no making up for them, no waiting on next year for them. Whatever might happen where they are concerned in future summers, they are, for this summer, lost. And those losses must be acknowledged and grieved and allowed to count.

I am also not being so foolhardy as to think there will not be some realities that will unfold that will create memories we'd just as soon forget.

But when I look back on nearly two decades' worth of "my favorite memory" tellings around the late-summer supper table, I see pieces of what can still be..what we'll want to have been.

Lazy naps on porch swings.
Ice cream runs. (Many.)
Family movie nights with the summer breeze blowing in open windows.
Sparklers on the lawn.
S'mores. (Remember: if you only eat one, it's just a "some." Don't settle for some.)
Camping (backyard or beyond).
Late-night laughter.
Late mornings.
Bike rides.

Sometime in August, God hear my prayer, my little family will gather around our kitchen table or out on our enclosed front porch with all the screened windows open (like outdoors, but without the bugs) or back at the picnic table by our barn (outdoors, with the bugs), and I'll make my annual momnouncement: "Okay, let's go around and share our favorite memories from this summer!"

And (God hear my prayer here, too), I know what my people will say: that for all they might have missed, they've hit the things they love most, again and again.