Well we made it through the first week of a new school year, which means summer is officially over. Summer seemed to f-l-y by this year, which was maybe a little bit of a blessing and a little bit of a curse.
I started the summer numb, if I’m being honest. School got out just 7 or 8 weeks after Corey died and that whole first couple months is still such a blur. The kids spent some time in Coeur d’Alene with Corey’s family right after school got out, which they do every summer, but driving home after dropping them off was a very quiet and surreal ride this year. Seeing Corey’s headstone in person when we visited the cemetery for the first time didn’t help matters.
Talk about feeling the finality of a thing.
As we were getting ready for school last week I began to reflect on this summer, on just how different it was, and on what my “new normal” is shaping up to look like. I took more time off work than I initially thought I would and was deeply moved by the kindness and compassion with which they responded to my request for more time after those first few weeks. There was a lot of freedom that came with that, and I was so very grateful, once again, for the people God has placed in my life.
I rested more than I really ever have this summer. My kids spent time with their grandparents in Coeur d’Alene and in California, they went to camps and clinics and a had a few activities here and there so I spent a lot of time alone. I had some special visitors from out of town and the time spent was sweet and reflective and healing.
I also worked my tail off around the house and yard on a whole list of projects I made after getting home from dropping the kids off that first day with their grandparents. Some of the projects I did myself; others could only be accomplished with a host of awesome people who worked their tails off too.
I experienced the whole gamut of human emotion – over and over and over. I laughed, I cried; I got mad and silently yelled inside my own head at times – things I’ll probably never say out loud to another living soul. I sat and I worked in silence a lot and I didn’t “people” very much. But along the way I learned a few things I wouldn’t trade for anything and overall I think it was a summer of forward progress and growth.
So here are a few of the things I’ve learned over the past hundred-and-something days of summer:
- I’ve learned you can get all your steps in for the day without ever leaving your yard.
- I’ve learned you can still order the free birthday dessert at a restaurant to celebrate someone special, even though he’s not there with you in person.
- I’ve learned there are equal parts gratitude and satisfaction when your neighbors who’ve been caring for your yard for the past year turn the reins over to you – and your middle-schooler, who now knows how to run the new lawnmower, thanks to their guidance and support.
- I’ve learned with the help and direction of some awesomely green-thumbed people, I actually enjoy working in the yard. McAuliffe’s Valley Nursery in Snohomish is now one of my favorite places to hang out. Who knew?!?!
- I’ve learned that painting a ceiling is about the worst home improvement project one can tackle.
- And I’ve learned that you should always use a drop cloth.
- And that you really always do have to do the second coat.
- I’ve learned that family members friends who enjoy painting are to be treasured – and fed well.
- I’ve learned how to run a saw and a drill and change out drill bits. Thanks, Dad.
- I (re)discovered that refinishing furniture is as fun and satisfying as I remembered it being.
- I’ve learned that things as simple as reorganizing your closets, cupboards, pantry and laundry room really simplify life – and make you smile every time you look at them.
- I’ve learned that certain things really are worth the investment – of your “time, talent or treasure” as Pastor Rob always says.
- I’ve learned the house is really quiet with the kids gone and I got a glimpse of what my empty-nester years are going to look like.
- I’ve learned you can find out how to do almost anything on YouTube.
- And I’ve learned the first name of a lot of the employees at ACE Hardware and Sherwin Williams in Lake Stevens.
- I’ve learned there’s almost no mood a good long walk can’t fix – whether by yourself or with good company.
- I’ve learned that sometimes it’s awesome to work on projects with your favorite Pandora station cranked up.
- And that sometimes it’s better to work in silence.
- I’ve learned that it’s freeingly satisfying to keep your phone in your purse and make real-life memories with real-life people and not feel the need to share it on social media – just to prove to yourself and everyone else that you’re “OK.”
- I’ve learned that it’s OK not not know what “OK” means.
- I’ve learned that it really does take a village – and that I have a pretty darn amazing one.
I hope that some of the lessons I learned over these past few sun-filled, slower-paced months will sustain me, ground me and bolster me in the months to come. I don’t know whether I’m ready for the school year, but it’s here so I guess it’s time to buckle up. So as we look toward a new season of learning, cheers to a season of things learned. May we all be better for it.