Summer sucks. I know I’m in the minority in this feeling, and I’m fully prepared for public protestations. But I have reasons that should make sense to even the most profound lovers of the season. Summer is too hot for this winter-born, Connecticut Yankee woman – an immovable fact of my entire existence, but certainly not the sole source of my summer doldrums.
This is also the time of year when most academicians are off from work and most politicians are, too. This leaves all journalists but the White House press corps looking for news to cover and inevitably giving up, in favor of working on a long feature article or book – usually from their cabin or beach house, where the cell phone doesn’t get reception. In short, from the July 4th holiday to Labor Day, Washington feels almost empty. And that makes my job of producing a weekly television show with authors, politicians, journalists and professors extremely hard to do!
Most of all, the last time my late mother was lucid enough to talk to me with clear head and voice, it was July 4th weekend. She died a week later. Those last eight days of her life were sandwiched in between my first and second knee surgeries, and those surgeries suspended my martial arts life for more than a year. More than that, the first operation required I be kept overnight at the hospital because I wouldn’t come out of the general anesthesia. My doctor was afraid I’d die in my sleep if he sent me home. I can’t begin to describe how terrified I was of having to be put under again a month later.
For the last seven years, sweltering summer days are a revival of full-blown grief, a reminder of the most physically devastating time of my life and a reunion with the inevitability of mortality. The ghost of the depression that stayed with me for almost two years afterward comes floating back in like clouds of pollen in spring that I don’t even know are there, until I see the yellow film on my car.
I regularly miss my mother – especially when one of my children does something great, and I can’t tell her. I also miss the knee I had before the injuries that required its virtual reconstruction – especially when I’m doing a form where I need to jump high or far. Those realities are with me year round, mitigating the impact of the season over the years. Still, there’s something about anniversaries that’s unavoidable. And having bad times during beautiful days simply sucks.