I have written before of our beloved lake. It is, I believe, a truly magical place. I have spent every summer there since I was 4, with our lake family. Together with a few other families we blended together to create Summer Haven. And there, we spent our days creating memories that are filled of the simple joys of an ideal childhood...sun, sand, water, mountains, woods. It was truly a haven.
To attempt to describe this place in words is futile. Nothing captures all that it was and is. There are six other people that share this childhood with me. A mix of four families blended into one each summer. We are the originals. The group of seven that spent summers together and have a shared history that no one else can claim or even fully understand.
One of the originals left us this week and we are all crushed. We won't get to see him again this side of heaven and there is a hole left in our group that is gaping.
We all grew from children to adults together. I don't know if there is a single picture of all us together. We were too busy playing and creating adventure to stop for a pic. Our parents were too busy enjoying books and the occasional cocktail on the beach to stop and take a pic. We were given the freedom to go find fun. In the time before cell phones and wifi we were all thoroughly present and thoroughly connected to each other. After the unavoidable self involved years of 18-24 we have all found our way back to this place and to each other.
We watch our children play on the beach and forge the same kind of friendships we have. Our kids bounce from house to house as we did. They plan out forts and hideouts to construct in the shadow of the forts their parents built in the same woods. It is beautiful. We show up for each other when life gets tough.
Our friend had a tough time for a long time. I am so thankful for the last visit I had with him. We sat on the beach and watched our kids swimming together. There was hope and peace. That is what the lake does. It brings us together and settles our soul.
The lake family brought me peace when my Mom died because I knew my children would be surrounded by those who knew her well and loved her. They share stories with my kids that keep her alive to them and to me. That same job falls to us now. The originals. We have been entrusted with precious memories and will share them so that our friend lives on.
There is a lot of grieving right now. Grieving what could have been and what wasn't. But there is joy too. The joy is in the remembering. Joy in knowing that we have a haven to return to, a place to come together.
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing. Psalm 30:11