I've looked forward to this day ever since the first trickle of melting snow in April. The anticipation began to build as days crawled by until finally culminating in a burst of frenzied preparations. The interminable trip at last behind us, we are here: summer at the lake cottage.
The car is unpacked and everyone has scattered, off to their own devices. At last I have some peace and quiet—one of the reasons I love this place so much. As I drowse in the late afternoon sun, my mind begins to wander back , a kaleidoscope of memories...
When I was little, it was all about sand castles and dripping ice cream. Whether it was roughhousing with my brothers, family picnics, or quiet times of reflection, we never lacked for anything to do—and always had fun.
Of course, the water was the main event. Sometimes we'd start swimming at nine in the morning and jump in every couple of hours as the sun rose higher and the pavement began to sizzle. We'd quickly bronze with lightened hair from being kissed by the sun—a memento to take home when our time here was over.
And who could forget the bike rides? We had wondrous adventures between our house and the little store with creaky wooden floors. Funny what you remember....ice cream sandwiches and tiny wax pop bottles filled with juice. We'd plead for money until Mom gave in, reminding us that it needed to last...at least till the next day.
Teenage years brought about all kinds of opportunities for fun. Boats, skiing, and tons of kids everywhere. I can still feel the water spraying my face as we raced across the waves in our little speed boat. Picking up boys became an art form for me and my girlfriends, resulting in more than a few summer romances....sweet memories.
At sunset, we'd settle down on the beach with a crackling camp fire and listen as the night closed in. The guys would break out guitars, their voices combining with the gentle whisper of crickets to create a midnight harmony accentuated by the moon slivering on the waves and fireflies flashing.
Sure, we found ourselves in trouble occasionally but it was always worth it. There was the time my older brother snuck out of the house to shoot off fireworks. He had a lot of explaining to do when the police showed up. And who could forget the memorable day when I was towed home by the Sheriff Patrol in humiliation after I let the boat run out of gas? I can still hear my mother ranting about how many times she had told me to ALWAYS check the fuel tank before leaving the dock....
Of course, the lake has its share of painful memories as well. Slide shows of events filter through my mind: the dinner following my father's funeral, the day we closed the house up, fearing it might have to be sold, and now to the place where I am this day.
Fortunately, the siblings were able to work out the details and keep the cottage in the family. For this I am eternally grateful in light of my current circumstances.
You see, I'm fairly certain this summer will be my last. Just before we left home, I got the dreaded call. Oh, I already knew and wasn't at all surprised but it's not like you are ever prepared for the worst—it just happens. So when the voice on the other end of the line told me how sorry they were but the cancer had returned...and there was nothing more that could be done...my heart immediately turned to this place.
More than ever, I knew where I needed to be as it is only fitting that I should complete my life's journey here. The chapter that began with sand castles and summer fun must be closed so that the next one may be written. That being said, while it may be considered selfish, I also feel entitled to harbor my secret for a few more days. That's why I didn't tell anyone about the phone call. The last thing I need right now is sympathy and hovering. I know they mean well but for once, it's all about me. Eventually I'll have to tell them but for the moment, I think I'll just sit here and soak up a few more rays...
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