When I was growing up, September was a special time for me. School began again, for one thing. As much as I enjoyed long summer days spent bike riding, roller skating, listening to records, etc., with friends, I always loved school, particularly the first month.
September also brought to my hometown a yearly week-long extravaganza known as the SEMO District Fair. The largest city park turned into a midway of carnival games and rides, and the large Arena Building became the home of exhibits and judging of 4-H projects and of quilts & other works of art as well as all sorts of food items -- jams & jellies, cakes & pies, cookies & candy -- created by women from our part of the state. In one section of the park, row after row of huge pole-barn type structures housed 4-H and FFA (Future Farmers of America) livestock. And the food! Cotton candy, corn dogs, funnel cakes, candy apples and caramel apples, saltwater taffy . . .
September was also the time when temperatures cooled a bit. While I loved hot weather -- in fact, the hotter it was, the happier I was -- schools weren't air-conditioned then, and the cooler temperatures made the days much more comfortable.
September also brought high school, college, and professional football, and I loved going to the high school games every Friday night and spending Sunday afternoon in the family room with my dad, eating junk food and watching whatever games were available on the only 3 channels we got back before cable TV brought hundreds of them into our home.
As the years passed, September retained its charm for me. The opening of the school year was moved to the middle of August, but everything else stayed the same. And 30 years ago, on a beautiful Saturday evening in the middle of the month, my husband I got married.
Yes, September was always special.
Five years ago, though, September became something quite different; it became a month that I dreaded, containing the day that brought a horrible end to the worst 6 weeks of my life, followed just 13 days later by a bittersweet reminder of what was no more. I was hoping, though, that this year would be better, that the pain would be less sharp.
Instead, this year has proven to be the most difficult September in several years. Part of this is, I know, due to events in the community I work in and in the world at large, events ranging from the merely troubling to those that are deeply tragic.
More significant, though, is the fact that this September I am facing the not-too-distant loss of yet another person who has played a significant role in my life. A woman I've known for 32 years, who has been a treasured friend and mentor. The beloved mother of my husband and grandmother of my children. A woman who is facing the very grim diagnosis of Stage 4 pancreatic cancer with grace, dignity, and courage borne of her unwavering Christian faith.
Her illness is, as I tell people who hear of my mother-in-law's diagnosis and immediately ask how I'm doing, not about me, and I don't want to make it about me. But with every passing day there's another test, another treatment, another sign that her condition is worsening. And with each test, each treatment, each sign, I'm reminded of a similar journey 5 years ago.
I see around me the same loved ones -- my children, my father-in-law, and various other in-laws -- grieving, and I know that the situation will only get worse and their suffering will only increase in the days and weeks to come.
As so, last week I found it very difficult to dream and plan a' la Dream Save Do.
But what about you? What have you been dreaming of? As you look to the future, what would you like to see there?
I hope you'll share even just part of your dream, either through a comment or by emailing me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
So please, dream a little dream for me.