I’m watching the sun go down on the horizon, and I’m coming to the realization: The summer is finally over. I smile.
This was the wickedest and the weirdest summer of my life (and I’ve had a few of pretty nasty ones). I should have guessed it would be a twisted one by the way it started. The weather was incredibly nice. Ireland got three weeks of uninterrupted sun. Croatia was kicking it in the World Cup. That’s how it goes: Universe gives you some, but takes some back.
As the summer began I was sipping gin tonic on a terrace with my friend, gossiping and enjoying the warm evening. Then it hit for the first time. A major disappointment in some people I deeply cared about. And just like that, a warm summer evening turned into a cold, long and dark night. I felt hurt and betrayed.
So I did what I do when I’m feeling down – I went to London. I was enjoying the day with two of my closest friends. We were walking through Hyde Park, listening to Roger Waters in the distance, just returning from a nice dinner. If we had taken a photo, there it would have been: the three of us, smiling, walking, making plans for when we’ll see each other again, London in the background. For a moment I felt happy. Then I received THAT call. That call I knew would happen some day, but I would never be ready. It was my brother on the other end of the line telling me our dad was in a hospital waiting for the emergency surgery. “They told us to prepare for the worst”, the voice at the other end of the line said. Everything from that point on was kind of a blur for a while.
I was at the airport, trying to get a first flight out of London. I was in ICU, looking at the person who looked like my dad, but wasn’t really my dad. I was at home. I mean, the apartment that once was my home, but hasn’t been in a while. I kept wondering – was any of this real?
It was real, but it was getting better. Dad was getting better. Time in Croatia felt soothing; I was healing my own wounds. So I decided it was safe to return to my real home, to Dublin. I promised I’d be back in Croatia soon. This time for a proper vacation. I would take some time off from work, spend some time with family, maybe go to the seaside and actually enjoy some of this horrible summer. How foolish of me, letting my guard down like that once again.
The day after I landed in Croatia my grandmother died. The first thought that ran through my head was – is it ironic or convenient that I am already here? The cold, disinfectant-reeking interior of a hospital was replaced by a gray, emotionless interior of a funeral parlor. A nurse in a blue uniform was replaced by an expressionless man in a suit. My dad, who had finally found just enough strength to stand on his own was picking out the clothes his mother would be buried in. The same thought struck me again – was any of this real?
It was real, but it was over soon. Once the funeral was over, I was happy to once again return back home, to Dublin. I thought I could finally grieve in piece and quiet. It turned out my frenemy Summer had more unpleasant surprises for me there. But, that’s already a story for another time.
What this story is still missing is a massive thank you. Thanks to all the people who stood by me through all of this. To my brother, who was there when I couldn’t have been. To my amazing colleagues, who made work one less thing to worry about. To that stranger who exchanged looks with me as I was crying in front of the hospital, nodded his head, shared my pain.
To my friends – I wouldn’t have made it without you. You were the ones who had to hear the same story over and over again, until your ears bled; and you would still go on and listen to it once again, because you knew telling the story made me feel better. You were the ones who just sat there in silence besides me, because you knew silence was what I needed. You were the ones who listened to me cry and patiently let me cry until I had felt the pain had left my body.
And finally – a big thanks to me. As I’m watching the autumn sun gown down on the horizon, I’m coming to a realization: I’m doing just fine. I will be fine.
Universe takes some, but gives some back.