I’m always excited about the first days of summer when sunsets linger and the night becomes an extension of the day. But, the heat, when it is at its hottest, is relentless and exhausting. It sinks beneath my skin and into my bones reminding me of what was.

The slap-slapping of flip-flops, toes curling into the sand, cool water over sun drenched skin…the sounds and sighs of summer. I miss them.

When the summer unleashes its full force on us it takes my breath away with its memories. After all this time I’m still sucker-punched-in-the gut-I-can’t-believe-I’ll-never-know-this-again, the scars too great to see too much sunlight, my legs always encased in silicone, plastic and metal. The sun has become more of an enemy than something I couldn’t wait to bathe in. Summer was my favorite season filled with hours at the lake, reading until the words blurred together, adjusting my bathing suit straps for minimal tan lines. My year began in the fall, not in January. Summer was my chance to shed the worries and mistakes of the past year and live carefree for a few months until I got to start over.

In the wake of June 12, 1998 the summer was cruel to me, a joke. I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. I couldn’t wear what I wanted to wear. It was unbearable to see girls my age toes wiggling, skin exposed, flipping their hair, and complaining about the heat. God, I wanted what they had. I ached to have a toenail painted, to know smooth skin again. If I could just feel the stones under my feet as I waded through the lake one more time…

Today, you couldn’t pick me out in a crowd. I might be more covered up than some. I would look as though I was sun-conscious worried about overexposure. Everybody’s concerned about the sun’s harmful rays now. You might notice my arms are scarred or that I have a small scar on my chin, but you wouldn’t think I was too out of the ordinary. My shoulders aren’t hunched, wallowing. There is little sign of loss. I’m at the park or the beach herding my kids like every other parent out there, telling them to stop that or shouting good job as they swing from wrung to wrung on the monkey bars. I’m dressed for work, in line at Starbucks, picking up my coffee. I’m having a raspberry margarita with friends or shopping, gasping at some cute top.

I want to rush through the summer. I want to sprint ahead and get it over with. To get to my beloved fall, my favorite season by default. But, I need to give summer its due. It was the season of my rebirth. One beautiful summer evening my life ended as I knew it and another began. I was not stripped of my will. Nobody claimed my soul. It was still my life to do with as I wished. I fought for what was mine. The summer may be bittersweet, but I’m here. I’m rich in choices and family, alive with the knowledge of many summers ahead of me. I can take the heat, relentless in strength and memories, if I’ve got that.

Swept Up

In Fairhaven
My friends and I went shopping at the outlets in the States and stopped in Fairhaven, Washington for dinner. I used to come here a lot and have found it hasn’t changed much over the years. It’s even cuter than I remember it. Unfortunately, there is not one good photo to be found to do this sweet, quaint village justice. I scoured their website and found this: Every Saturday evening June 20 through the end of August, Fairhaven offers live music and entertainment followed by a feature-length movie on the Village Green screen. Isn’t that adorable?

20 thoughts on “summer

  1. LMN

    Aahhh, Heidi. I am still tingling from your words.

    I will have to absorb them for awhile.

    I, too, love the fall, but for a different reason, and due to a different kind of loss. I guess in the end, regardless of the heat or the cold, we can celebrate the seasons. The change. The renewal.

    I will have to come back and read your words again.

  2. Intense Guy

    I have to admit I like fall more than summer – but to feel like you need to rush through summer… because of the aftermath of a horrible accident is sad.

    I've seen your pictures and watched your presentation video on your website. You are a beautiful and charming woman – and one I'd enjoy meeting on the beach over a cup of coffee any day.

  3. Christy

    Oh Heidi what a powerful post. It didn't show up in my reader, by the way. I just clicked on your blog to see if I'd missed any posts…

    You have such an amazing attitude – I really admire you. And you're an amazing writer; I love reading your blog.

    I have to admit too, I prefer fall, always have and always will.

    Hope it comes soon for you!

  4. Marnie

    Great post Heidi! That workshop pulled some powerful emotion and words to surface! Bravo!

    My year doesn't begin until September either. I am glad to know that there is someone else who feels the same.

    Having a relaxed schedule, late dinners, a glass of wine, hanging out on the boat, and partaking in the company of good friends, that to me is what Summer is all about. After having a 9.5 lb baby (who was ALL in my insanely humungous tummy), I have had to leave the 'bikini clad' crowd behind & re-create my own Summer. And you know what? I am a much happier person!


  5. bernthis

    I too used to love the Summer. It was also my time to shed the "old" me and hopefully become the person I always wanted to be.

    Now, Fall is my season. My year also begins in September. this is a beautiful post and I am now going to stumble it.

    You're a terrific writer you know

  6. Heidi

    lmn, thank you, sweet girl.
    are you dying over there in the heat?? us west coast people are not cut out for this kind of heat.

    intense guy, wow! thank you so much. cup of coffee and the beach….sounds good to me!

    christy, thank you! hmmm…maybe there's a problem with the blog…i'll have to get scott on that. thank you, again. maybe next year we'll have to meet in person in NYC!

    marnie, your relaxed schedule sounds divine. thank you for the kind words. i so appreciate them and you.

    bernthis, i already emailed you, but i'll say it again here. thank you so much. and thanks for the stumble! i'm honored. it's my very first!

  7. Suz Broughton

    I was totally engrossed by your words, your story. I can only imagine writing this was difficult and you questioned it, but I am glad you did.
    What an inspraion you are! What a story you have! What beauty you reveal with the truth!

  8. Dorkys Ramos

    Such a deep post. Now as I walk around thinking of how unbearable this humidity is, I'll try and stop myself in my tracks and remember those who have a harder time and yet choose to look at the positive side of their situation.

    You're so strong 🙂

    By the way, fall is my favorite too. Used to be spring…until I developed those annoying allergies. Plus, I get this childish joy from crunching fallen leaves on the ground.

  9. karenp

    fighting back tears reading this post…
    the vulnerability.
    the honesty.
    the poetry.
    of your words.
    i love the way you write.

    and umm.. well… hmmm.. i know something that goes really well with summer… margaritas!!! let's go!!!

  10. Linda Sue

    Heidi GIRL! I LIVE in Fairhaven! AND it is cute but businesses fail on a daily basis it seems- one closes another opens and closes and then another…It may seem to have not changed but it is a deception- just when you become attached to some cool eatery or shop- it is GONE! Anyway, it is a great place to live- easy and a bit slower.
    BTW- you are BEAUTIFUL!

  11. sugarlens

    Fairhaven sounds like a town I would like to visit someday.

    Summer is not my favorite season, although I do like the longer days. I am looking forward to fall – cool and crisp weather is what I like the most!

  12. King of New York Hacks

    Thought provoking and inspiring…started out like the striking of a match and was burning bright by the last line. Well done.

  13. Isabella Snow

    This is one of those uncomfortable-but-major-growth moments. Don't worry, you do quite well with them.

  14. kendalee

    Heidi, I've been back to read this a couple of times and I want to say so much but nothing really seems to capture my thoughts. I think it boils down to "wow, beautifully written" and "you're inspirational"! I'm sorry, it seems a bit trite, but it's not meant to be. Thank you for sharing this. It puts things in perspective and I need that!

    And I love summer but I love Autumn more. It's my favourite favourite and I wish it was the longest season… 🙂

  15. Chris

    I am a summer girl at heart, and love this post! Really makes me stop and think and feel 🙂

  16. Kate Coveny Hood

    You posted this while I was at the beach and I missed it! And it's by far one of the very best posts I've ever read (yours or anyone's). I love it and having read your most recent one (after this), I have to say that it's nothing but inspirational and truly hopeful. I would never think you were stuck in the past reading this. I would know that you were fully enjoying your present, looking forward to the future but always conscious of your past and how it shaped the amazing woman that you are today.

    I need to figure out how to "share" things in my Google reader… This needs to be read by anyone with eyes.

  17. you gotta wonder

    I first read this while on vacation at the beach but didn't have time to comment. I'm so moved by the powerful imagery and emotions evoked in this post. Thank you for the reminder that we must give each season it's due.


Comments are closed.