Summer was always fun with Gavin - for so many reasons.
This is our third summer without him. It seems impossible, but it's true. I loved spending time outside with him in the summer - on the swingset, in our baby pool, going for walks... Gavin loved it all. Especially the pool!!
Summer days can be hard when there is more downtime to stop and think about the gaping hole he left in our lives. But I love finding him in the sounds of laughter as Brian yells "higher! push me higher" or exclaims "I DID IT!" when he challenges himself to try something new.
I love seeing him in Hope as she fearlessly explores and lovingly follows her brother - two things Gavin did as well.
Hope trusts Brian - just as Gavin trusted his little brother. Brian helped Gavin do a lot of things...and continues that role with his little sister. It's beautiful to see it come full circle...
I always looked forward to summer - ever since our first trip to the beach with Gavin. Every year of Gavin's life we have gone to Ocean City at least once - sometimes twice. There we created some of our fondest memories as a family. We loved having a week without worrying about therapy or doctor visits or answering the door to helpers. It was just us.
Gavin loved the beach. And as each year passed, he got more and more adventurous and daring.
He even went into the ocean with Ed and laughed and laughed as the waves crashed around them.
I always felt that the beach, the ocean... everything about that town... had magical properties. I swore the salt air alone was working to heal Gavin.
Perhaps it was healing all of us... preparing us for a beach vacation without him. For a life without him. I find myself simultaneously dreading and anticipating summer now. Going to Ocean City can be painful without him. Everywhere I look there are memories.
But... everywhere I look, there are memories.
He is in the sand... in the salty air at night... in the sunrise over the sea... at the edge of the pier where his Daddy and I lovingly scattered some of his remains. I will hear him in every giggle from the amusements. I will feel him as my salty tears fall.
Life goes on - as it should. Summer turns into Fall turns into Winter and then Spring. There's always a reason to miss him each minute of each day of each season. He's missed holidays and birthdays and the birth of his sister. But the push and pull of summer in my heart is one of the hardest.
This week we will be spending time as a family in Gavin's favorite place. We will be surrounded by his Aunts and Uncles and cousins and my new great nephew! We will laugh and smile and remember. We will be by the ocean trying to care about little else but being together as a family. We will be on the boardwalk, riding Gavin's favorite rides - visiting his firetruck - and eating lots of junk. And I will remember, each and every morning, to choose joy. It's the only life that Gavin would want for all of us - but especially for his brother and sister. And they make it quite impossible to choose anything BUT joy every day.
As I stand by the water this week, feeling the push and pull of the sea under my feet, he will be there.
My son will be right there beside me.