Light up

9 Dec

My dad called me on Father’s Day, 2018 to tell me he had been diagnosed with cancer. I was camping with my daughter & her dad, along with two other families. The day before, I’d felt more joyful, peaceful, and optimistic than I could remember feeling in years. I began that camping trip confident that I deserved the amazing life I had, and that I could move forward to build a great life for my kid.

Our phone conversation was brief. Dad was making several of those calls that day, and I was in a campground with a group of kids. There was a lot to say, but it wasn’t the time or place to say any of it. We never really found a place or time to say any of it.

About a week later, after tying up as many loose ends as I could identify, I headed to Walla Walla by myself. It seemed like the thing to do, so I did it without giving much thought or talking to anyone.  In hindsight, I wish I’d made different choices–either leaving immediately after the phone call or waiting just a few more days. I was in a fog, trying to plan and also trying to rush. I regret missing my daughter’s last day of second grade, never getting (or giving closure) to the kids, families or staff.  It was a tough school year for everyone. The teacher lost her father suddenly and was gone for several weeks near the beginning of the year. We all deserved a better goodbye/closure than I allowed.

I also deeply regret missing Summer Solstice. Our family celebrates the changing of seasons during Equinox and Solstice, usually at a small park near our house. We bring gifts for the fairies, clean the park, and dance around. For as long as she can remember, we’ve visited the fairies in the big maple tree. Our little celebrations drew attention from the neighbors, who created a fairy village to accommodate the expanding population drawn to our increasingly popular neighborhood. That group of fairies followed the neighbors when they moved to Atlanta, Georgia to seek more affordable housing.

About two weeks after my dad’s diagnosis, the big tree dropped a huge limb that crushed the bench beneath it. City arborists discovered the tree was dying from the inside and cut it down.  We had skipped our Summer Solstice celebration to go to Walla Walla and never got to say goodbye to the tree. I couldn’t bring myself to tell my daughter about it for several weeks.

We were still in Walla Walla for the Fall Equinox, which we celebrated with the big old maple in our front yard. We’re back home in Seattle for Winter Solstice. The new little maples in the park can’t host as many fairies as the big old tree, but the remaining fairies are resilient. They’ve relocated around the neighborhood and will gather to join us as we remember and look forward.

For everyone in the Northern Hemisphere: hang in there. The light will return.



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