I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated June like I should.
During my school years, I spent June anticipating summer holidays: “Let’s just get this over with already.” Get through June in order to get to July.
June wasn’t really on my radar following graduation, because I was busy doing learning-how-to-be-an-adult things, and it felt like I had all the time in the world. The specific, fleeting beauty of June in Manitoba went unnoticed; that is to say, it was a blur.
This all screeched to a halt the year my father passed away on the first day of summer. Which is awfully close to Father’s Day. Which is also in the same month as my parents’ wedding anniversary: June.
He was 54 on the cusp of early retirement, I was 28 and a newlywed.
At the time, I worked at the local radio station. (Still do, but went remote during the pandemic and that part has stuck.) That year, the station hosted a big “welcome to summer” party complete with bouncy houses, barbecue, and balloons. (Oh, and loud music, of course and obviously.) This was before I had a cell phone. I was outside in the midst of the action, when I was told I had a phone call.
My father had died.
Numb, I walked out of the radio station, through the chaotically joyful Welcome-to-Summer parking lot party, down the street, into the hospital, and into the room where my father lay, deceased.
And this is how June went from being unnoticed by me, to being hated by me.
Suddenly I saw the beauty but it was so cruel. It felt relentlessly unfair. I spent the month fighting my resentment toward the month. How dare the most beautiful month be filled with so much sadness???
It went on like this, year after year. June was unfairly lovely and brutal in its additional stressors as well, as Manitobans endeavoured to fit All The Good Things into one month, burning brightly before everyone disappeared for July and August, we tired of the sun, hated the mosquitoes, blossoms fell, and bugs ate all the leaves from the trees.
This phase of mine too screeched to a halt, this time because of a different devastation: the pandemic. For two years, there was quiet in June. I wandered, observed, reflected… and maybe, changed a bit.
Now, re-emerging, I think this might be the first June of my life when I see the beauty, I love the beauty, I rest in the beauty of this month… knowing it’s entirely fleeting, knowing it contains a lot of pain… but time — and yes even the pandemic — has given me some space to really see and love this month for what it is: absolutely gorgeous.
*Written with gratefulness to all the beautiful volunteers who made Summer in the City (Steinbach’s annual downtown festival) such a joyful success this year… perhaps in the year we needed it most. There isn’t thanks enough.
**Here’s me and my dad in 1979. Because yesterday was Father’s Day and I miss him.