The following is a poem I wrote during 2014 when we found out that Mom’s metastatic breast cancer infusions and treatments were starting to fail. Not all of them, but enough to warrant her having more hospital visits than ever. We knew then that Mom’s time was slowly coming to the inevitable end; the disease would eventually take her life in the following year.
Every summer for decades, she and my dad would spend weeks in Maine in a rented cottage. It was something they loved and looked forward to each year. After Mom’s diagnosis, they thought that perhaps they shouldn’t go that year. I decided to write this poem to remind us all that all that happiness and a vacation state of mind can happen at home. (But happily, they did go to Maine that year.). The poem follows:
This summer we’ll shake it all up
Maybe sip our wine from a coffee cup.
Instead of Maine from June til fall
We’ll stay here, and make a new summer of it all.
Instead of camping in small rooms,
We’ll sit on our steps and hear the thunder booms.
We’ll trace the boundaries of our new July
By twilight, moon and firefly.
Day trips we never took before
Will make new memories, new family lore.
We’ll drive home, happy and spent
And rest sweetly in our bedroom tent.
Life’s not always about our getaways
It’s about the way we fill our days.
Our laughter, our tears, our joys and fears
Make a rainbow ribbon of our shared years.
This summer, Scrabble games can be at home,
Let our friends come to us, in groups or alone.
A book read in the hammock on the lawn
Can be as satisfying as ocean colors at dawn.
The sea, the stars, the trees and flowers
We loved in Maine are always ours.
The pictures in our minds keep them near
Just as bright, and close, and clear.
Our own home, yard and summer sounds
Will take us through our ups and downs.
This year will be different, no doubt—
But change and hope is what life’s all about.
Summer at home will be a vase of new flowers
New adventures, new trips, more happy hours!
More love, more joy, more kisses, more hugs
More birdsong, more jokes, and more lightning bugs.
So let’s change our summer of regularity
To a new one of singularity.
Let us trade our years-old scope
For a new and shining one of love and hope.