I don’t do well in summer. I grew up in Northern New York where one, maybe two, days a year, the temperature reached 90. Most nights were cold enough for a sweatshirt and even the hottest days could not raise the water temperature at the Rec Park above “blue-lips-teeth-chattering-goose-bumps” cold. Heat can bring me to my knees.
I don’t like June. Father’s Day usually starts my doldrums. Graduations can be rough or bring on a major depression. Flag Day is okay, I usually buy a new flag for the front porch.
I mostly hate July. My son’s birthday is July 4. And I can be caught up in fireworks and barbeque and fussing over his party. On our last date on July 6, 1988, my husband and I went to NYC to see “Phantom of the Opera.” I loved it and he tolerated it, having a much better time at the dollar bins at Tower Records before the matinee. We headed north for a Family Reunion on July 8, 1988. That is where he broke his neck. He was completely paralyzed and hospitalized in the ICU of Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh, NY. The rest of the month was blazingly hot but I didn’t feel it. I was freezing within the confines of the ICU, praying for my husband to live. I saw my children only a few times. I exerted most of my efforts on directing my husband’s care and trying to wrangle a transfer to a hospital closer to home.
It is August that I really loathe. The transfer of my husband to Ellis Hospital in Schenectady took place on August 8, exactly one month after he sustained his injuries. We arrived at Ellis late on the night of August 8. My in-laws arrived on August 9. My children were returned to me by my parents that same day. On a hot and dry August 10, I visited off and on with my husband, pondering when I should stop by my office and his. My return to work was interrupted by his death in the late afternoon. He was buried in Brooklyn on August 14, 1988. I sat shiva for the next week, and then went back to work.
My husband would have turned 36 on August 21. Our tenth wedding anniversary would have been August 26. Both celebratory events turned into days of “what-might-have-been.”
I don’t really start coming out of my bad mood until after Labor Day and then the Jewish holidays followed by the regular ones, all centering on family, pretty much kick my ass until New Year’s. Valentine’s Day, my birthday in April and Mother’s Day in May are not good either. I’d say my one good month is March; I don’t tend to get into much trouble in March, except on St. Patrick’s Day.
But, the summer is a time when I go a bit crazy, when one perfectly fine day can turn into a day when I dive under my covers, triggered by the smell of hot dogs on the grill. When laughter at the sight of a guy with a bad body cutting grass without his shirt on can turn to sobs. When a refreshing swim in the cool waters of the pool can be heated up and ruined by hot tears spilling from my eyes.
I couldn’t sleep last night. At first, I blamed it on a piece of cake I nibbled on in the late afternoon. But as random troubling thoughts raced through my head before dawn, I reached for my cell phone to check the time: 4:20 a.m. July 1, 2013.
I can’t wait for summer to end.