Summer Solstice

I didn’t write yesterday. Not a word. Despite setting aside the entire afternoon, a glorious few hours for uninterrupted productivity, on the longest day of the year.

June is busy, even during a pandemic.

When All the Things that come with season’s end take over, time is hard to come by.

So I’d settled myself at the bistro table on the front porch with my laptop, ready. I would finish that elusive chapter.

Except I wouldn’t.

Sunglasses and iPad keyboard visible on a bistro table, with a chair behind.

I wouldn’t because just as my fingers lined up along the keys, my mother came up the steps.

A few days earlier my parents had arrived. Tired. Hair a little thinner. But rosy-cheeked and beaming. They’d had over twelve months to imagine what it would be like to see their children and grandchildren in person again instead of through a screen.

The setting didn’t matter — a driveway or a backyard or a porch would do well enough.

At first, the company was more important than the conversations. Embracing the chaos. Kids with water guns. Gates opening and closing, in and out. Laughter new yet familiar.

Panting dogs basked on the blacktop. They, too, were smiling. They felt the shift along with the rest of us.

Happy dog enjoying a bit of sun on a deck.

When my introvert self craved quiet, I turned to my work-in-progress. It had already been too long. I wanted to get back to the story, drawing it out word by word.

And then my mother came up the steps.

For company, yes, but it was time for more. While we had it.

Beginnings. Endings. Some we choose and others we can’t control. Life is the story of both. On the cusp of summer, I sensed the start and stop. Time moving but standing still.

And it was her turn to tell the tales. Her story. My father’s. About an island in the middle of the Atlantic. Sacrifices and celebrations. Hardships and heartache. Peacekeeping on another continent in a time of political upheaval. Family. Love.

Questions flowed naturally. How did you feel? What were you thinking then? Were you afraid?

When did you decide to leave the only home you’d ever known and cross the ocean to a new one where you’d never set foot?

Why did you stay?

Beginnings. Endings.

Some we choose and others we can’t control. Life is the story of both. On the cusp of summer, I sensed the start and stop. Time moving but standing still.

I chose to listen. Fiction could wait.

And I knew, in those hours that felt like minutes and a lifetime, that I would always remember that conversation. Words and memories and moments, to care for as if they were my own.

Part of a teal bench visible, with a small, white plastic table beside it. On the table are a candle lamp, clock, old milk jar, and some yellow flowers.

In a way, they are. An inheritance of incidents that together make a life. Lives, combined.

Non-fiction better than anything I could make up.

I didn’t write yesterday and I’m not sorry. Because after the Solstice, the days get shorter.

Published by Sonia Nicholson

Sonia Nicholson is an archivist, executive assistant, and writer. She was born and raised in Osoyoos, British Columbia, Canada and studied French and Spanish at the University of Victoria. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia with her husband, two children, and two rescue dogs. Follow her on Twitter @nicholsonsonia_

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