We always make bigger plans than our real lives can carry out. My summer was going to include near-daily latin study, to be prepped and ready for the school year; I was going to read a book a week, clean out the attic, paint my son's room, and get my windows really, actually, truly clean. Very little in the way of "productivity" has happened this summer, but also, so much in the way of learning and discipline and fun.
This is kinda how summer has gone:
In May we graduated our daughter from homeschool, which is really just a formality since she's been teaching herself for a couple of years anyway. We had a party and I thought I would float into summer with the peace of having that big event out of the way and months of projects and fun left. (Not that her celebration wasn't fun—it's just that planning events is out of my comfort zone.)
June was all camps and company and I thought I was just warming up for summer, but it seems like I am always getting ready for something that is already happening. Slow and late.
One daughter attended Summit in California, one spent a week at a camp for Christian Youth in Action, our guest room filled with friends from Burma, and Tim and the boys camped with other fathers and sons from church.
We celebrated 20 years of marriage June 15th in our quiet and simple way—shopping, dinner, hotel. We're the type of people that are content to be boring, as long as we can be boring together.
Potlucks, graduation parties, a bridal shower, a concert, and a mom's book club attempt rounded out June.
Older children require a different kind of energy. Life is broken up in small chunks of time to do what I need to do, divided by drives to town and meetings about this and that and doctor's appointments and sports physicals and let's-talk-at-11 p.m. and all other sorts of good things.
I've been trying to catch up, and that's just how summer goes.
July, on my phone calendar, is a rainbow of multi-colored appointments and events for each child and a bright purple stretch where my husband and I and our oldest son backpacked in the Eagle Caps Wilderness. It was a quick trip, but definitely the highlight of my summer.
They scouted for elk. I took pictures with my phone and tried not to annoy them. It was great.
Jacob took driver's ed. in July and is now officially a licensed driver, which means he can drive himself to football daily doubles and his sister to youth group. Which means I can go on long walks with my husband instead of taxiing kids around. Which means we're old. Which makes me happy.
Speaking of long walks, I've run less this summer than ever in the past 20 years, with pregnant exceptions. It's bittersweet, mostly because—whether I walk or run these days—I do it without my faithful companion.
Lacy, our precious friend, went missing August 3rd.
I keep trying to find some lesson here, some reason for our deep love for this animal, for the surprisingly deep pain and loss we all feel, and for her absence. She was Jake's dog and watching him grieve just compounds my own grief.
The day before she went missing, Tim and I had gone for a run with Lacy. She could tell the difference between our regular clothes and our running clothes, and she would flip herself in circles when it was a run day. Pure enthusiasm and joy—how could I not enjoy a run?
She always had her little trails she would run down, sniffing out birds and bunnies and occasionally rooting out a deer. She always came back, always we would hear her collar jingling as she came running with tongue dragging, and she would finish the last couple miles right by our side as if she'd been trained to heel.
We had talked on that last run about what an amazing dog she was, and I remember looking over at her and noticing her bright orange collar. We had seen fresh bear sign on our run and I was relieved to think that her bright collar would prevent any hunters from mistaking her for a bear. She had followed the scent for a minute but came right back when we called.
We all just needed to know what happened and we suspected a cougar all along; the neighbors have spotted one several times. We prayed, hoped, made-up scenarios and Hallmark endings, but by God's grace Tim found her in the woods a few days later and our suspicions were confirmed.
He brought her collar home.
That bright orange collar. Every time we've walked or run since August 3rd, I have thought I heard it jingling and I am indeed a crazy dog-person and she was the best.
The number of people who have offered condolences and understanding has been my comfort—we are not fools for loving a dog.
And I may have changed my stance on a dog's entrance to heaven.
This has been August so far. I'm still confused and trying to catch up, but heaps of goodness lie dormant in this busy and hurting world—waiting for us to notice.
This is how summer goes.