I recently spent a weekend away to rekindle some childhood memories. I went to a place with my family that was sacred to us; it was a place of respite during the summer, a place of utter boredom and unequaled bonding among siblings. It was a place of comfort and of discomfort. It was a place from my childhood that was so important that even though we only spent a couple of weeks there each summer, it was revered as a special place, our place, my connection to my father’s family. My memories are mostly good: the mysteries of the attic, the smell, the items (including old Pan-Am carry on bags from the 60s and 70s, old glass pill bottles to name a couple), the warmth of the space. I remember lobster races on the flagstone walk way. I remember how cold the water was from the hose used to rinse the beach sand off, even from those hard to reach places, before going into the house. I remember cheese puffs and cranberry-apple juice before dinner and the slight smell of dog. I remember the wooden swing for the tree in the yard, the bird bath so faithfully filled each morning and the fun of being the one picked to bring in the flag from the flagpole in the evening. I remember the mosquitoes, playing on the rocks, singing “Shoo-Fly” as we walked. I remember tuna sandwiches and ginger-ale on the beach, the sand pails used to rinse off feet. I remember the car rides over little rises that caused our tummies to flutter on the way down while sitting in the back seat of a 70s convertible. The stench of the lobster bait as we walked on the pier and the taste of grape soda while dropping fishing lines from the end of it. I remember looking at all the pictures of my father as a baby, little boy and young man all carefully displayed in my Aunties room. The house was sold several years ago, but still that place remained special….until my last visit.
Something horrible happened. Something so grossly horrific that I can hardly bring myself to say it when I have to. Something that now consumes my thoughts and my sleep. The association of this event to that special place has caused a great chasm in my heart. On the one side, the precious memories of a little girl and her family and on the other the newly created nightmare of the now grown woman and her own family. Stress had already been applied to that place a few years ago when my father died. But this? This was devastating. I don’t know if I will ever be able to re-visit that place. All the wonderful memories are now stained with this recent event.
The old wooden swing sits in my garage, gathering dust. I had hoped to hang it in my own yard. For now, it will remain in the corner. I pray that God will renew my love of that place someday, and that it won’t always carry this dark shadow. I know God can renew, and I know God can heal. It’s the waiting that hurts so bad.