Summer Of 1969
Everyone knows the song Summer of ’69 by Bryan Adams. It became THE song for every summer romance. For me, the summer of ’69 was tucked away in the comfortable warmth of my mother’s belly. According to baby size comparison charts, I was the size of an eggplant.
I think Summer of ’69 was a hit (aside from the catchy lyrics and melody) because there’s something special — too complex to put into words — about summertime. Especially for those of us who grew up in the northern part of the United States, life is made for summertime!
For me, summers have always been filled with an endless list of fun activities and long-lasting memories. Some of my fondest memories come from summertime as a child.
Vacations to the beach on the Jersey Shore. (No, it wasn’t like the tv show. For the most part.)
Sleepovers with friends. Staying up late watching movies.
Sleeping way past noon and hurrying to get the chores done before Mom came home.
Swimming in the amazing pool in our backyard. Riding my yellow bike with the cool flowered banana seat.
Arguments with my brother over board game rules. Watching him play baseball under the lights at the Little League Baseball Field.
Cookouts. Lemonade stands. Fireworks. All of these things and more made my summers quite memorable.
Of course, there were difficult times during those summers. But, those don’t stand out as much in my memory as those special moments spent under the sun with family and friends.
As a parent, I long to create similar experiences for my sons. For the most part, my husband and I have done our best to shape the rhythm of our life to create space for these type of moments for our family.
Which brings me to the Summer of ’17.
With no Brian Adam’s guitar solo in sight.
This summer, we experienced some things that challenged our family like nothing else we had faced before. And we had no idea they were coming.
We celebrated the last day of school. We set our calendar. My husband planned a surprise trip for the two of us. Home renovations were underway. The Summer of ’17 seemed to be off to a great start.
Until June 19th.
Jim and I were about to board a plane in New York for my surprise trip. Minutes before boarding, we got a call. The words we heard next were words no one ever wants to hear.
“Mr. Wilkes, we have the results of your CAT scan, and it shows a 4cm mass in your bladder. We are confident that it’s cancerous. Enjoy your vacation. We’ll deal with this when you get back.”
Walking down the jet bridge felt like walking up Mount Everest. Our 4-hour flight felt like the longest of my life. We sat in silence until the tears started flowing and flowing. And flowing.
I experienced a rush of thoughts, questions, and emotions in the moments that followed. Here are a few.
My first thoughts were:
- I believe God still heals. I guess, now, we get to live what we believe and preach in a very real way.
- You can live without your bladder. Whew!
- I’m ready for a fight devil. You picked a battle with the wrong girl!
And then the questions:
- He’s so young. How could this happen?
- He’s really such a great man. He’s kind…like all the time. Why him?
- We have given our life to serve you, God. Don’t you know we don’t have time for this?
- What about our sons? Will they walk away from God and blame Him? Will they hate church?
As a child, my summer was filled with fun and games. Those were long gone now. These thoughts and questions became my summer. They became OUR summer.
A few minutes later…well, a lot of minutes later and some hours of prayer, my questions were replaced by new thoughts.
- My husband belongs to God.
He is a gift from God in my life, but first and foremost, he is God’s son. God has NEVER let me down and He won’t stop now. He can be trusted. He is still a God that heals.
Darkness is temporary. The light has come. What the enemy planned for evil, God meant for good.
- Kale isn’t so bad after all.
I realized it was time to get more strict on our normal organic eating habits. I have become overwhelmingly educated on how to keep my husband’s bladder intact (didn’t think I’d ever say that!) and live a full healthy life.
- I am surrounded by some of the greatest people on the planet.
I became increasingly aware of the power of prayer with a community of believers. My family, my friends from all across the nation and my church, prayed for us in powerful ways. They were such a strength to me. I have never felt more loved and cared for, even from strangers and “enemies”…lol!
(some of our staff, elders, and leaders gathered to pray over Jim before surgery)
- My boys are much stronger than I realized.
Like most parents, I wonder if any of the good things I teach my children sink in. The day we told the boys about the diagnosis was a tough one. But, within hours, my 15-yr. old had contacted all of our pastors to offer his care, concern, and to let them know he was there for them if they needed anything. What?!
Throughout this whole process, my boys have been strong, helpful, and thankfully, never blamed God or the church. This fact alone has been enough to bring tears to my eyes, thanks to the grace of God on our family.
A few days ago, I sent my boys off to school; Joel to the 7th grade and Joshua to the 10th grade. When their friends ask how their summer was, I hope they can say:
“Oh, when I look back now
That summer seemed to last forever
And if I had the choice
Yeah, I’d always wanna be there
Those were the best days of my life.”
As it turns out, The Summer of ’17 brought with it some of the best memories a girl could dream up.
And just like in the summer of ’69, I rest in the comfortable, safe, warmth of God’s great love for us.
These really are the best days of my life!