This year the children and I were determined to have a proper summer, after last year’s summer that went wrong. Read on to see if we achieved what we planned…
So here we are back at 1st September. The mornings are starting to get cooler and darker, and autumn is definitely just over the horizon. The return to school is imminent, and with it, a return to what passes for normality in this household.
The long balmy summer is just about over, and this year I am ready for it to end. This year I am rested and ready for the next wonderful chapter in our family life.
My regular readers (and any of my personal friends that read this) will know that last summer was anything but normal. I wrote last year about our Annus Horribilis, leading up to a dreadful summer. We took my dear mum home, and sat by her bedside, managing an endless flow of doctors, nurses, carers and well-wishers, until her cancer claimed her.
Picking up the Pieces
Looking back on that post, I find it hard to believe that in September last year, less than a month after her passing I was already thinking I could dust myself down, start afresh and things would be back to normal in no time. Ha! What did I know about grief?
Instead I found myself overwhelmed, not just by my own grief, but my daughter’s all-consuming adolescent grief for her first bereavement and the loss of her favourite grandma. As we talked through it all over many a sleepless night, we realised that we both felt that the summer had been stolen from us too, depriving us of the chance to rest, regroup, chill out and dream and plan a bit before starting a new year.
We both had that same thought many times and then felt guilty for having it – how could we be so selfish to mourn the loss of our summer when Grandma clearly needed us and we did what had to be done? Exhaustion and grief toppled us both into depression, and forced me to visit some places in my mind that I never want to see again.
My husband, grieving and exhausted himself, but feeling excluded by the cocoon that my daughter and I spun around ourselves, retreated to the relative safety of his office, and volunteered for all kinds of stressful projects, coming home later and later. And my son sat bewildered in the middle of it all, innocently wondering what had happened to his family and seeking more and more solace in his favourite video games, while I just let him.
That was where my hopes and dreams for this summer came to birth. I was determined that this year, the family was going to have a proper summer, a chance to rest, get to know each other as a family again. I wanted to include some active stuff, some downtime, some travel, and a quick trip back to Bournemouth to honour the anniversary of mum’s passing.
My definition of a Proper Summer
I took the entirety of August off work and stayed as far away from my blog, email and social media as I could. I insisted that we have a two week all-inclusive break in a resort with activities for the children and guaranteed sunshine for me. Then I took the children for 5 days to my lovely holiday lodge in Mudeford that I bought with the money I inherited from Mum.
Over the next few days I am going to write a lot more about our summer – what we did, what I discovered about myself and my family and all the other wonderful things that came out of it. I feel that I have taken great strides this last month to knit our family back together, to untangle the strands of grief and to set us all on a path to somewhere brighter this year. Maybe some of our experiences will offer some hope or encouragement to anyone who is going through their own hard time, that it is possible to heal and recover from many of life’s tragedies.
This summer may be over (and I’m really not fond of autumn and winter) but this year I feel whole, entire, rested and ready. I’m coming for you, dark, cold and windy days – with the strength gained from planning and living my perfect proper summer.
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