February 24, 2020

The Great Fortune of Ordinary Sadness

“I’m getting teary-eyed at a fruit stand, running my fingers lightly over the fuzzy skin of a peach while willing my bottom lip to stop its ridiculous quiver. I will not cry. A little change of plans is nothing to be sad about, as sad things go.

A few weeks ago, I was supposed to have picked up my teenage son after a month at summer camp on a riverbank in North Carolina, the place he loves more than anywhere on earth. Next year he plans to work there all summer as a counselor, and after that he’ll be off to college with future summers unspooling toward his adult life, away from us.

So I’d been counting on the fact that when he got back this time, we’d have our final turn to do all the summer-things we’ve done as a family since he was born. We’d take our last end-of-summer road trip to visit cousins. Sleep in on our last lazy August mornings. While away our last long, hot afternoons in the quiet of the backyard. This would be our last summer in one place as a family of four, he and his younger sister together, as they’ve been all their lives.

But as my husband and I were loading the car to make the drive to retrieve him, our son called. There was a last-minute job opening. If he could stay for the rest of the summer, he would be promoted immediately from counselor in training to full-time counselor. He would have his dream job — the one he’d been working toward for years — a whole year sooner than he thought. I’ve never heard him so thrilled.”

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