Eighteen Summers

You only get eighteen summers.

That’s what the memes and posts tell you, remind you, warn you.

Eighteen summers with your little one.

Eighteen.

That’s it until that’s it, so cherish each one- eighteen, seventeen, sixteen…

I remember seeing the posts often last summer, scrolling and then the taunting of it all.

I saw the posts from my couch where most of my summer was spent. A catheter bag like a leash, and fresh surgery wounds healing, and what summer?

The memes, the posts….

The reminders intended to help us value time, when in reality they take it for granted.

Who says you get eighteen?

I remember countless kind people coming and lovingly whisking my kids off to summer activities. The help it was to me, and the opportunities for them.

But I would cry. They’d leave and I would cry, because here went one of those 18 summers.

I couldn’t take them to the park or watch them swim or soak in the hot rays together.

I don’t take this summer for granted. This appreciation, this glee with them this summer, yet this lesson was not learned from a meme. But from a missed summer.

I snuggle my foster daughter, shield her from the sun, look at her smile at the birds, camera captures her with flowers. I know… I may get one summer. Just one. Seventeen others not to be mine.

I think of receiving another foster child, an older one, summers already gone.

Do we ever know? Ever know that we get eighteen? Two babies lost in utero, no summers to be had. My boys splash in pool water and I soak it in, know that we never know.

You only get eighteen summers? Love, you only have today.

Only eighteen? This attempt at cherishing, and yet, are we missing the gratitude?

only.

Only eighteen… but no, wait, oh- for the joy of eighteen! To have them! The bliss of even one!

We are not owed this, not entitled to this, but each one gift, gift, gift.

You only may have be gifted eighteen summers!

You only have this moment.

If you have this summer, have been gifted this summer, dear one saturate yourself with the joy of it, the gratitude of it, the cherishing of it. Knowing you’re not entitled, not owed it, but it’s a present from the Father.

And the harder road? Are you losing one of the eighteen? Is the summer withheld, a cloud of suffering and restriction pulling it away?

Can even this be gift?

The Sovereign God always controlling, always appointing, always arranging.

If your summer is shadowed, may this verse be a balm:

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11 (NASB)

May He be your Sun, when the summer sun is lost to darkness. And know, when eighteen do not come- no good thing does He withhold.

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