My mind shuts down in summer. The moment my children's school-year schedules come to a halt, a stopper is plugged into my brain. I can have a conversation. I can walk and feed the dog. I can even clean out closets piled high with several years' worth of junk. The creative side of me, though, takes leave as soon as July rolls in. The most I can do is sit and read.
As I lit the yartzeit (memorial) candle for my father last evening, I realized, like I do every year, why my mind responds to the warm weather the way it does. On the Hebrew calendar, today is the thirteenth anniversary of my father's death. With the humid breezes and shockingly beautiful bursts of hydrangeas comes the memory of the summer that brought deep sorrow.
Summer's lovely charms will always be tied to my father's tragic death. The misty steam that rose from the moist pavement in the middle of the night; the chilled air-conditioned air mixed with sterile ICU smells; the pre-dawn light illuminating the lush treetops.
Summer is a season of sensory delights. Each day I take pleasure in nature's bounty of color and warmth. But no matter how many thrilling memories are encoded into the sights and smells of summer, they are overshadowed by the one fateful August night in the summer of 1997, when my father was taken from me. It is this darkness that takes over my faculties for a part of every year.
As I stare into the flame, which continues to burn on my kitchen countertop, I remember my beloved father with bittersweet love. I marvel at the strength of the natural world and the sheer power it has over our minds and bodies. I will never forget you, Dad, in all your joyous glory. I also will never forget the season of your passing.